Pleadings (so far) in Insurance Company’s Effort to Avoid Navajo Nation District Court Jurisdiction

Here are the materials in Zurich American Insurance Company v. McPaul (D. Ariz.):

1 Complaint

1-2 Navajo Nation Complaint in Chinle D. Ct.

30 Zurich Motion for Summary J

32 Navajo Motion for Summary J

34 Zurich Response

35 Navajo Response

39 Zurich Reply

40 Navajo Reply

Federal Court Gives Full Faith and Credit to Navajo Customary Adoption Order

A small part of this case, but important nonetheless. Here are the materials in Kinlichee v. United States (D. Ariz.):

Chinle District Court Order Validating Adoption

DCT Order Denying US Motion to Dismiss

DCT Order re Settlement

Federal Motion to Dismiss

Plaintiffs’ Response

From the opinion:

It is undisputed that Ms. Davis is a Navajo and that Mr. Kinlichee was as well. (Doc. 52–1 at 1–2). It is undisputed that the alleged negligence in this case occurred within the Navajo Nation. (Doc. 1 at 1–2). It is undisputed that Ms. Davis obtained an order in the Family Court of the Navajo Nation validating her Navajo common law adoption by Mr. Kinlichee. (Doc. 52–1 at 1–10). Although the adoption was posthumous as to Mr. Kinlichee and retroactive to 2003, the Navajo court granted the adoption. See (Doc. 52–1 at 1, 10).

Additionally, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a state must give full faith and credit to adoption decrees issued by the tribal court of a Native American sovereign. Venetie I.R.A. Council v. Alaska, 944 F.2d 548, 562 (9th Cir.1991). There is no issue known to the Court, or raised here, suggesting that the Navajo Nation lacks the status of a Native American sovereign, and its tribal court granted Ms. Davis an adoption order. If Ms. Davis had been legally adopted by Mr. Kinlichee in another state, and then became a tort plaintiff in the District of Arizona, that adoption likely would not be questioned, or legally analyzed for its merits, before Ms. Davis would be granted standing. Accordingly, this Court must recognize the order of the Navajo court validating Mr. Kinlichee’s adoption of Ms. Davis.
Therefore, as to Ms. Davis, the Court denies Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for lack of standing.

Disturbing Dicta from Federal Court in Arizona

Here is the offending quote:

In March 2009, plaintiff’s son Andy was struck and killed by a Bashas’ truck backing into a loading dock at a supermarket in Chinle, Arizona. In June 2009, plaintiff brought negligence claims against debtors on behalf of herself and the estate in a Navajo tribal court. Although the parties provide little detail on the status of the tribal case, which also involves claims against a property owner and the driver of the truck, we note that non-Indian entities are not subject to the jurisdiction of the tribal court. Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co.,     U.S.    ,    , 128 S. Ct. 2709, 2726 (2008); Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544, 101 S. Ct. 1245 (1981). Nevertheless, the entire case was apparently stayed after debtors entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2009. Motion, Ex. 3 at 2 (“Because of the automatic stay, no serious discovery has been advanced in the Navajo Nation case.”).

Not really true, it just seems that way.

Here is the order: In re Basha’s

And here is a reference to recent scholarship on how dicta becomes law.