Florida COA Affirms Tribal Immunity Defense in Miccosukee Tribe v. Lewis & Tein 

Here is the opinion.

An excerpt:

“There are reasons to doubt the wisdom of perpetuating the doctrine” of tribal immunity. Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Mfg. Techs., Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 758 (1998). It “can harm those who are unaware that they are dealing with a tribe, who do not know of tribal immunity, or who have no choice in the matter, as in the case of tort victims.” Id. No one knows this more than Guy Lewis and Michael Tein. The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, according to Lewis and Tein’s complaint, spent five years filing false lawsuits, suborning perjury, and obstructing justice, in an effort to damage the attorneys’ finances, reputations, and law firm. Whatever its wisdom, tribal immunity endures, and Indian tribes are not subject to the civil jurisdiction of our courts absent a clear, explicit, and unmistakable waiver of tribal sovereign immunity or a congressional abrogation of that immunity. Because neither exception to tribal immunity has been established in this case, we reverse the trial court’s denial of the Miccosukee Tribe’s motion to dismiss.

UPDATE (9/7/17):

Miccosukee Brief

USET Amicus Brief

Answer Brief

Tribe Reply

Seminole Tribes Prevails in Sovereign Immunity Dispute with Slip and Fall Plaintiffs

Here is the opinion in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Schinnler (Fla. Ct. App.).

An excerpt:

Here, the tribe established that no resolution, ordinance or compact including a waiver of immunity was enforceable in 2009 when the plaintiff’s claim arose. The resolution (No. C–195–06) passed by the Tribal Council authorized the tribe to enter into the 2007 compact. While the 2007 compact provided a limited waiver of immunity, our supreme court held the compact invalid. Crist, 999 So.2d at 616. The tribe also provided an affidavit attesting that no waiver of sovereign immunity was in effect when the claim arose. The plaintiff did not rebut this affidavit, nor could she have done so.
There is no factual dispute. The trial court departed from the essential requirements of law when it denied the tribe’s motion to dismiss. This harm is irreparable if immunity is not given its intended effect.

Florida COA Rules against Miccosukee Tribe in Suit against Lewis Tein

Here is the opinion:

Florida COA Opinion

An excerpt:

Once the movants made such a presentation, the burden shifted to the Tribe as the non-movant opposing the motion to either (1) come forward with conflicting evidence that created a disputed issue of material fact which, if decided in favor of the Tribe, would support a judgment for the Tribe; or (2) file an affidavit, pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510(f), describing with specificity the additional discovery needed to obtain such evidence. The Tribe did neither. For example, the Tribe’s expert was unable to identify a single invoice by the Lawyers that he believed was fraudulent, illegal, or excessive. 

Florida Appellate Court Reverses Parental Termination Due to ICWA Notice Violation

Here is the opinion in G.L. v. Department of Children and Families (Fla. App. 5th Dist.).

An excerpt:

The father, G.L., appeals the termination of his parental rights to his child, T.M.L. He contends that the notice requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (“ICWA”), 25 U.S.C.A. §§ 1901-1963 (2010), were not met. We agree, reverse the judgment, and remand with directions.

***

For these reasons, we reverse the termination order and remand this case to the trial court so that proper notice may be provided. On remand, the trial court shall conduct a hearing to determine whether T.M.L. is an Indian child under the ICWA. If, after notice and hearing, the trial court determines that T.M.L. is an Indian child, the trial court shall conduct a new trial applying the requirements and standards of the ICWA. If, after notice and a hearing, the trial court determines that T.M.L. is not an Indian child, the trial court may re-enter the termination order terminating the rights of the parents. See S.B. v. Dep’t of Health & Rehab. Servs., 679 So. 2d 57, 57 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (reversing order terminating parental rights but stating that on remand, upon resolving notice issue, court may re-issue termination order).

 

Miccosukee Tribe Loses Non-Intercourse Act Claim in State Eminent Domain Case

Here is the opinion in Miccosukee Tribe of Florida v. Dept. of Environmental Protection (Fla. App.).

Here is an excerpt:

The Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida petitions for a writ of certiorari to quash the trial court’s order that denied its motion for final summary judgment in an eminent domain proceeding based on the Tribe’s alleged sovereign immunity and/or the provisions of the Federal Nonintercourse Act, 25 U.S.C. § 177. In response, the Department of Environmental Protection contends that the three parcels of land at issue, which the Tribe purchased on the open market, are not protected by either the Tribe’s sovereignty or the Nonintercourse Act. Because the Tribe has not shown that the trial court’s ruling departs from the essential requirements of the law, we deny the petition.

Florida Appeals Court Rules against Seminole Tribe in Gas Tax Case

Here is the opinion in Florida Dept. of Revenue v. Seminole Tribe of Florida.

An excerpt:

Taxability of gasoline purchased outside of Indian lands is the issue in this appeal. The Department of Revenue appeals a final summary judgment for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, declaring motor fuel taxes imposed on the Tribe for purchases of fuel off the reservations and trust lands, but used on tribal lands, invalid and directing the State to refund those taxes. It argues the trial court erred as a matter of law in ruling against the Department of Revenue. We agree and reverse.

We posted briefs here.