Eighth Circuit Decides Kodiak Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. v. Burr]



A dispute over the practice of flaring natural gas from oil wells fuels the legal controversy in this case: the scope of Native American tribal court authority over  nonmembers. Several members of the MHA Nation sued numerous non-tribal oil and gas companies in MHA tribal court. Those companies operate oil wells on lands within the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation that have been allotted to individual tribe members but are held in trust by the federal government. The tribe members alleged the companies owed royalties from wastefully-flared gas. Some of these companies unsuccessfully contested the tribal court’s jurisdiction over them in tribal court. Then they initiated this action in federal court to enjoin the tribal court plaintiffs and tribal court judicial officials. The district court issued a preliminary injunction, and the tribal court plaintiffs and officials separately appealed. We affirm the injunction because we conclude suits over oil and gas leases on allotted trust lands are governed by federal law, not tribal law, and the tribal court lacks jurisdiction over the nonmember oil and gas companies.

Briefs here.

Eighth Circuit Briefs in Kodiak Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. v. Seaworth [formerly Burr]


MHA Nation Judicial Officers Brief

HRC Brief

Lower court materials here.

Federal Court Excuses Additional Tribal Court Exhaustion in Oil/Gas Flaring Dispute at Fort Berthold

Here are the materials in Kodiak Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. v. Burr (D.N.D.):

29-2 mha trial court opinion

29-9 mha nation supreme court opinion

30 kodiak motion for pi

45 tribal judge motion to dismiss

46 burr response to motion for pi

48 tribal judge response to motion for pi

54 kodiak reply in support of motion for pi

59 hrc motion for pi

62 tribal judge reply in support of mtd

64 hrc response to mtd

66 tribal judge response to hrc motion

68 dct order

Federal Court Suit to Stop Fort Berthold Tribal Court Suit against Oil Company

Here are the materials so far in Kodiak Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. v. Burr (D. N.D.):

1 Complaint

1-1 Amended Tribal Court Complaint

1-2 Tribal Resolution