E.D. Okla. Rules in Favor of Cherokee Nation and Remands UKB Trust Application

Download the documents and materials in the matter of The Cherokee Nation v. Jewell et al, 14-cv-00428 (E.D. Okla. May 31, 2017):

The Court ruled a 2011 BIA decision approving an amended land into trust application of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee was arbitrary and capricious. On remand, the BIA must obtain Cherokee Nation’s consent to the application per its treaty rights over former reservation land, give full consideration to the jurisdictional conflicts between Cherokee Nation and UKB, the resulting administrative burdens on the BIA, and the effects of Carcieri.

Link: Previous posts

Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town Loses Challenge Related to Wetumka Project

Here are the materials in Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town v. United States (E.D. Okla.):

202-tribal-motion-for-summary-j

207-us-response

210-tribal-reply

217-us-reply

218-dct-order

Title Action against Muscogee (Creek) Nation Trust Lands Dismissed

Here are the materials in Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town v. United States (E.D. Okla.):

182 Muscogee Creek Motion to Dismiss

185 Response

186 US Acquiescence

188 Reply

193 DCT Order

Update in Cherokee Nation Risperdal Suit

Here are the materials in Cherokee Nation v. Johnson & Johnson (E.D. Okla.):

18 Cherokee Nation Motion to Remand to State Court

19 Opposition

20 Reply

22 DCT Order Deferring Remand

Federal Court Decides Matter Involving ERISA and Tribal Court Jurisdiction

Here are the materials in Life Insurance Company of North America v. Hudson Insurance Company (E.D. Okla.):

16 Motion to Dismiss

18 Response

19 Reply

20 DCT Order

An excerpt:

LINA argues that tribal exhaustion does not apply to an ERISA case. The exhaustion of tribal remedies requirement was modified in El Paso Natural Gas Company v.  Neztsosie, 526 U.S. 473 (1999). In that case, the Supreme Court held that the tribal exhaustion requirement did not apply to a case involving the Price-Anderson Act, a statute with a broad preemptive scheme. LINA argues that the Northern District of Oklahoma has since held that like the Price-Anderson Act at issue in Neztsosie, ERISA preempts state and tribal court claims “related to benefit plans falling under its purview” and concluded that abstention would be inappropriate. Vandever v. Osage Nation Enterprise, Inc., No. 06-CV-380-GKF-TLW, 2009 WL 702776, at *5 (March 16, 2009 N.D. Okla.) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 1144). See also Coppe v. Sac & Fox Casino Healthcare Plan, No. 14-2598-RDR, 2015 WL 1137733 (March 13, 2015 D. Kansas). This court agrees. 

Hudson argues, however, that Vandever is not controlling in this case because suits between insurers for reimbursement of benefits paid are not pre-empted by ERISA. Hudson is correct. Complete preemption under ERISA “is limited to claims brought under § 502(a), and that provision, in turn, is limited by its terms to claims ‘by a participant or beneficiary’ of an ERISA-regulated plan ‘to recover benefits due to him under the terms of his plan, to enforce his rights under the terms of the plan or to clarify his rights to future benefits under the terms of the plan.’” Hansen v. Harper Excavating, Inc., 641 F.3d 1216, 1221-22 (10th Cir. 2011) (citing 29 U.S.C. § 1132 (a)(1)(B)).

Federal Court Remands Choctaw Contract Dispute with its Insurer in Removal Action

Here are the materials in Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma v. Occidental Fire & Insurance Co. (E.D. Okla.):

15 Occidental Motion to Dismiss

17 Choctaw Motion to Remand

18 Choctaw Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

22 Occidental Reply

26 Occidental Opposition to Motion to Remand

28 Choctaw Reply

31 DCT Order

An excerpt:

Occidental characterizes the issue in this case as whether it may assert or waive the Nation’s sovereign immunity in connection with insurance coverage on a claim made on the policy. It has not been suggested that Congress provided authority for an insurer such as Occidental to abrogate, waive, or otherwise assert the sovereign immunity of an Indian nation through appropriate legislation. Consequently, the source of the waiver must be the Nation itself. The sole unequivocal statement of the relationship between the Nation and the insurers is the policy itself. Indeed, Occidental recognizes this fact by relying upon certain provisions within the policy to argue the Nation has specifically granted it a waiver or control over the assertion of sovereign immunity. The interpretation of the terms of the policy as a contract is governed exclusively by state law.

Federal Court Denies Intervention to Dosar-Barkus Band in Seminole Nation v. Salazar Trust Settlement

Here are the materials in Seminole Nation of Oklahoma v. Salazar (E.D. Okla.):

DCT Order Denying Motion to Intervene

Dosar-Barkus Band Motion to Intervene

Interior Opposition

Seminole Nation Opposition

Muscogee v. HUD — Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to HUD Determination on MCN Investment of Housing Funds

Here are the materials in Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. HUD (E.D. Okla.):

DCT Order Granting HUD Motion to Dismiss

HUD Motion to Dismiss

MCN Response

HUD Reply

Federal Court Enjoins Muscogee Prosecution of Tribal Members for Theft

Here are the materials in Fife v. Moore (E.D. Okla.):

20110422 Order

Fife PI Motion

Moore Motion to Dismiss

Fife Response

The court concluded that the Muscogee District Court had no jurisdiction to prosecute tribal members for theft against the tribal government because the crime did not occur in Indian country (which until recently would have been considered preposterous).

This case implicates two important issues (one at Muscogee and one involving many Oklahoma tribes). The first is the continuing dispute over the tribal district court at Muscogee (see our posts here and here). The other involves Indian Country in Oklahoma, the subject of a cert petition involving the Supreme Court (most recent post here).