CA9 Remands Nonmember Jurisdiction Case to Tribal Court

Here is the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Elliott v. White Mountain Apache Tribal Court. An excerpt:

We are sympathetic to Plaintiff’s concerns about defending her actions in an unfamiliar court system. But, because tribal court jurisdiction is plausible, principles of comity require us to give the tribal courts a full opportunity to determine their own jurisdiction in the first instance.

Here are the materials:

Elliott Opening Brief

White Mountain Appellee Brief

Arizona Inter Tribal Council Amicus Brief

Elliott Reply Brief

Case to Watch — Amerind v. Malaterre

The Eighth Circuit will be hearing Amerind v. Malaterre shortly. The appellant’s brief is here (amerind-appellant-brief). Our previous posting, with the district court materials and opinion, and the Turtle Mountain appellate court opinion is here. [Disclosure–I was a sitting appellate judge for the tribal court, but I did not participate in this matter.]

This case is a case to watch because it is a candidate for Supreme Court review under Montana v. United States. Maybe not a great candidate, but anything’s possible in the Roberts Court when it comes to tribal court jurisdiction over nonmembers.

Amerind is an insurance company chartered under federal law (according to my understanding, which could be wrong) that insures tribal housing. This case involves a fire at Turtle Mountain. Plaintiffs sued the Turtle Mountain Housing Authority, which was insured by Amerind. During the tribal court proceedings, the housing authority dropped out as a defendant, leaving Amerind as the insurance company and sole defendant. I suspect there is much confusion on the question of whether an insurance company can be a named defendant as a replacement for the real defendant (or alleged tortfeasor), since it is usually the insurance company that handles the defense and even hires the lawyers. Amerind, like any insurance company, is looking for an out.

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Attorney’s Process and Investigation Services v. Sac and Fox Tribe — Case Reopened

This case arises out of alleged tortious nonmember conduct during the leadership dispute at Meskawki a few years back. In 2005, the Northern District of Iowa applied the tribal court exhaustion doctrine as justification for staying the case (nov-2005-dct-order). The tribal court’s processes have run (motion-to-reopen-case [includes tribal court decision]), and now the case has been reopened (dct-order-reopening-case).

This will be a very interesting application of the Montana test, if the court reaches the merits.

Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians — Tribal Court Jurisdiction — Updated

The Southern District of Mississippi granted a TRO against the tribal court in a case brought by tribal members against the owner of a Dollar General on tribal trust land. How this case doesn’t meet the Montana 1 test is beyond me.

Here are the materials:


Miss Band Choctaw SCT Opinion





Federal Court Rejects Tribal Court Jurisdiction under VAWA

The Western District of Washington rejected a claim that the Violence Against Women Act confers tribal court jurisdiction over personal protection orders issued against non-Indians. In this case, Martinez v. Martinez, the Suquamish Tribal Court had issued a PPO against a non-Indian man in favor of an Alaskan Native woman. They both lived on non-Indian-owned land on the Port Madison Reservation. The court also ruled that the tribal court exhaustion doctrine does not apply in this case.

Here are the materials:







Tribal Court Jurisdiction over Tribal Insurers under the Montana Exceptions

The District of North Dakota, in Amerind Risk Management v. Malaterre, refused to the grant the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court did not have jurisdiction over it under Montana v. United States. The Turtle Mountain tribal council had waived the Turtle Mountain Housing Authority’s sovereign immunity to the extent of insurance coverage, in accordance with tribal court precedent. Plaintiffs who were injured and killed in a house fire sued the insurance company in tribal court, which then asserted the Montana defense.

Here are the materials:






MacArthur v. San Juan County Materials

The materials on MacArthur v. San Juan County (No. 07-701) are here. The petition is set for the Court’s conference on Feb. 15.

Tenth Circuit Opinion

Cert Petition

Cert Opp


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Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co. Materials — Additional Update

Here is the entire set of Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Co. materials, with the addition of two tribal court lower court orders:

ETA: Final SCOTUS decision has been added to this post as well.

Tribal Court Denial of Bank’s Motion for Summary Judgment

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Commentary on the Plains Commerce Bank Cert Grant

The Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari in Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co. surprised me a great deal. It proves, I think, that Indian law scholars and practitioners cannot claim to predict how the Supreme Court is going to act (no big surprise there, given how few Indians or Indian lawyers have clerked for the Court), but I also think it shows that the so-called Supreme Court bar can miss one every now and then [SCOTUSBlog’s Petitions to Watch seemed to miss this one].

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Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co. Materials — Update

Plains Commerce Bank’s cert petn reply brief is here: Reply Brief

All other materials are at our previous post.