Florida Appellate Court Vacates $4.1M Judgment against Miccosukee Tribe

Here is the opinion in Miccosukee Tribe v. Bermudez (Fla. App.):

3D13-2153

We posted on two prior Florida appellate opinions related to this matter (there are apparently ten overall) here and here.

H/T Pechanga.

Florida Appeals Court Strips Miccosukee Tribal Court of Jurisdiction in UCCJEA Matter

Here is the opinion in Billie v. Stier:

Fla Ct App Opinion

An excerpt:

This Petition for a Writ of Prohibition evolves out of a custody dispute between the mother, who is a member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, and the father, who is not a member  of the tribe of Native American heritage. The issue is whether the Miccosukee Tribal Court or the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit has the jurisdiction to decide the custody dispute. The mother petitions for a writ prohibiting the Circuit Court from exercising jurisdiction over the custody matter. Based on the facts of this case and the Uniform Child Custody, Jurisdiction, and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”), we conclude that the Circuit Court was correct in determining that it, and not the Tribal Court, has  jurisdiction to decide the custody issues and we therefore deny the petition.

Florida Appellate Court Rules in Miccocukee Tribal Member Tort Action

Strange case, in that lawyers representing two Miccosukee tribal members with a multi-million dollar tort judgment hanging over their heads — lawyers who might or might not be receiving their fees from the tribe — lose their appeal of the trial Court’s decision not to recuse itself. Complicated, too, I guess.

Here is the opinion in Bert v. Bermudez.

An excerpt:

What we have here is a lawyer, and now lawyers, who have acted recklessly and unprofessionally, and are now concerned that their behavior may have tarnished their image. We have, however, reviewed the record and conclude that although the trial court was justifiably frustrated with Mr. Tein’s behavior at the March 19, 2012, hearing, he expressed no views as to Mr. Tein’s credibility, made no comment suggesting he had pre-judged any issue, harbored any bias or prejudice against the defendants, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Tein, or the Lewis Tein law firm, or said anything to support a finding that the petitioners’ fear that they will not enjoy the impartiality and neutrality of the judge in deciding the issues is reasonable. We, therefore, deny the petition, and remind Mr. Tein and Mr. Lewis of their obligations and responsibilities as members of The Florida Bar and as officers of the court.

News coverage here.

Florida COA Holds Miccosukee Counsel Not Entitled to Immunity in Third Party Discovery Dispute

Here is the opinion in Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Fla. v. Bermudez (Fla. App. 3rd):

Miccosukee v Bermudez COA opinion

An excerpt:

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, a federally recognized Indian Tribe, petitions this Court for certiorari relief from an order denying the Tribe’s Motion for Protective Order and to Quash Subpoena for Deposition issued to Tribal Officer and General Counsel Bernardo Roman III, Esquire. We deny the petition.
The petition in this case emanates from a contentious series of postjudgment proceedings in execution on a $3.177 million dollar judgment rendered on August 5, 2009, against Miccosukee Tribe members, Tammy Gwen Billie and Jimmie Bert, arising out of a tragic automobile accident, which occurred on the Tamiami Trail in western Miami-Dade County ten years earlier. Gloria Liliana Bermudez died in the crash, and her husband, Carlos Bermudez, and their minor
son, Matthew Bermudez, were injured. There have been no fewer than twenty post-judgment motions for sanctions since the judgment was rendered, including criminal contempt, slung by the parties’ counsel against each other under the guise of the parties themselves. The plaintiffs have yet to realize any recovery on the judgment. The Tribal defendants assert penury.