Magistrate Judge Opinion Issued in Dossett v. Ho-Chunk Inc.

Here are the materials in Dossett v. Ho-Chunk Inc. (D. Or.):

1 Complaint

30 High Country News MTD

35 Ho-Chunk Nation MTD


44 Dossett Response to 30 and 35

45 Dossett Declaration

45-1 Exhibits

47 Dossett Response to 35

48 NCAI Reply

49 HCN Reply

50 Ho-Chunk Nation Reply

51 Ducheneaux Declaration

53 Dossett Motion to File Amended Complaint

54 Ho-Chunk Inc Opposition to 53

55 Ho-Chunk Renewed MTD

57 NCAI Opposition to 53

59 Dossett Reply to NCAI

60 Dossett Reply to Ho-Chunk

69 Magistrate Opinion

Defamation Defendants’ Counterclaims against Grand Canyon Skywalk Development Dismissed

Here are the updated materials in the case now captioned Grand Canyon Skywalk Development LLC v Cieslak (D. Nev.):

91 Defendant Motion to File Counterclaims

100 Opposition

102 Reply

113 Magistrate R&R

An excerpt:

Defendants seek to amend their answer to allege a counterclaim against the Plaintiffs. The proposed counterclaim alleges two causes of action: abuse of process and intentional interference with prospective economic relations. Plaintiffs oppose the motion on the grounds that it is untimely, will cause undue prejudice to them and that the proposed counterclaim would be futile because neither cause of action states a legally viable claim for relief.

119 DCT Order Adopting R&R

Prior post in this matter here.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development Defamation Suit Proceeds against PR Firm

Here are the materials in Grand Canyon Skywalk Development LLC v. Steele (D. Nev.):

17 Scutari & Cieslak Motion to Dismiss

20 Tribal Council Defendants Motion to Dismiss

22 GCSD Response to 17

27 GCSD Response to 20

31 Scutari & Cieslak Reply

32 Tribal Council Defendants Reply

63 Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Cesspooch

64 Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Tribal Council Defendants

66 DCT Order

Complaint posted here.

Grand Canyon Skywalk Development Corp. Sues Hualapai Officials for Defamation and Other Claims

Here is the complaint in Grand Canyon Skywalk Development Corp. v. Steele (D. Nev.):

GCSD v Steele et al Complaint

An excerpt:

This is an action for defamation, business disparagement, and civil conspiracy. The Defendants have conspired to publish and have in fact published false and intentionally defamatory statements designed to disparage the reputation of Plaintiffs. The statements have resulted in damaging the reputations of GCSD, Jin and Quasula, and substantial damages have been incurred, in Las Vegas, Nevada, where Jin and Quasula reside, and where GCSD is headquartered.

Federal Court Vacates Default Judgment in Penobscot Business-Related Defamation Suit

Here are the materials in Russell v. Krowne (D. Md.):

DCT Order Vacating Default Judgment

Penoscot Indian Nation Motion for Default Judgment

Defendant Motion to Vacate

Penobscot Response to Motion to Vacate

Defendant Reply

Strange case; seems to involve a program created by Penobscot called Grant America Program, which is  home buyer down payment program, and the defendants’ website, which published internet posts calling the program a “scam.” The Nation and its allies claim defamation, and the defendants call the suit a SLAPP suit.


Federal Court Dismisses Business Defamation Action against Caddo Member

Here are the materials in Kelin v. Guy (W.D. Okla.):

DCT Order Dismissing Kelin Complaint

Guy Motion to Dismiss

Kelin Response

Guy Reply

Kelin Supplement

Broadman on Tribal Libel Laws

From ICT:

People slander each other everywhere—without regard for territorial boundaries. But the legal treatment of such speech differs drastically depending on whether tribal or non-tribal laws apply. Tribal courts sometimes treat reputational torts like slander and libel, structurally, like their non-tribal counterparts, generally requiring proof of fault, falsity and harm. For instance, in many ways the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians defamation statute mirrors the standards of proof and structure of non-tribal defamation. (“Protection Against Defamation Act of 2006,” PDF) On the other hand, at least one tribal court has recognized a traditional cause of action for defamation under tribal law, complete with novel privileges and standards. As media interests increasingly collide with tribal governmental and commercial interests, tribal laws on expression will be tested. The results, as shown in a recent case from the Ho-Chunk Nation courts, will test the ongoing viability of defamation law in Indian country.

Libel and slander are curious species of lawsuits since they involve a person writing or speaking his mind. In non-tribal courts, plaintiffs who are public figures face a high burden of proof. But because U.S. Constitutional standards are not imported into tribal defamation law, speech laws take on very different shapes in Indian country. In 2008, an ordinance passed and quickly rescinded by the Tribal Business Counsel of the Chippewa Cree of Rocky Boy’s Reservation in Montana made it a crime to defame a tribal official. And last month, a Ho-Chunk Nation Trial Court applied a tribal military veteran’s privilege that, as it is recognized, existed nowhere besides Ho-Chunk.

In a careful treatment of tribal-specific defamation law, the Ho-Chunk Trial Court recently held inGardner v. Littlejohn that a “veteran privilege” existed, protecting certain defamation defendants from liability (see the opinion at the invaluable Turtle Talk—“Ho-Chunk Trial Court Decides Defamation Claim under Tribal Customs and Traditions”—edited by the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law). The court noted that although it “does not exist in any other jurisdiction,” the Ho-Chunk veteran privilege resembles that possessed by legislators, which shields certain legislative speech.

The suit stemmed from an Indian military veteran’s criticism of a tribal health department employee and an incorrect statement that the plaintiff had been terminated from employment. Typically, public officials suing their defamers must prove knowing or reckless falsehood. InGardner, had such a rule been applied and had defendants simply negligently defamed the plaintiff, no liability would exist.

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Ho-Chunk Trial Court Decides Defamation Claim under Tribal Customs and Traditions

Very interesting opinion (yet another from Judge Rockman) in Gardner v. Littlejohn.

An excerpt describing the question presented:

The Court must determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over this defamation action, and concludes that defamation existed under the customs and traditions of the Ho-Chunk Nation.  The Court finds that the plaintiff has shown that she was not terminated from her employment for an inability to administer third party billing, and thus did not seek to have said termination overturned due to nepotism.  Therefore, the Court finds that the April 14, 2010 document penned by the “Nioxawani Political Activists,” which was titled, Contract Employees: Shadowy Government,  defamed the plaintiff.

An excerpt describing the process of determining Ho-Chunk law:

Under the traditions and customs of the Ho-Chunk Nation, the plaintiff alleged that defamation would be a cause of action under the Ho-Chunk common law tradition of “woigixate,” which was recently enunciated within Supreme Court case law.  Compl.  at 2; Daniel Topping v. HCN Grievance Review Bd., SU 09-08 (HCN S. Ct., July 1, 2010) at 7 (“Woigixate  requires that all people be treated with respect and compassion and that no one should be treated badly or demeaned because of their situation”).  Consequently, Associate Trial Court Judge Amanda L. Rockman certified a question of law to the Traditional Court, inquiring whether Ho-Chunk “custom and tradition recognized defamation.” The Judicial Branch, acting through the Ho-Chunk Nation Traditional Court, may articulate binding law in the form of hocąk tradition and custom.

And the law itself:

The Traditional Court indicated that in the tradition and custom of the Ho-Chunk Nation defamation existed, meaning on occasion, individuals did publicly question the honor of another individual.  Nevertheless,  hocąk people generally spoke the truth.  If someone said something that was a lie or a false statement about another person, then that person typically ignored the lie that was said about them, knowing that it will come full circle back to the lying party.  In other instances, the person who uttered the lie or false statement would repeat it to that person face-to-face with tobacco, and the truth would reveal itself.

The presiding judge also questioned the role of a warrior and any privileges imposed upon warriors when publicly speaking.  The Traditional Court indicated that  a warrior maintained a privilege to speak his mind.  Ho-Chunk people have distinctive cultural values, and one such value is their proud warrior tradition.  Warriors  embody strength, honor, pride, and wisdom, and a warrior‟s success depends on the aforementioned embodiments.  Warriors return to their respective community with experiences that make them valued members of their society. Therefore, the Court relies on the above-referenced tradition and custom as the applicable law in this jurisdiction.

And defenses?

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