And the materials so far:
Lower court materials:
This case is Lower Sioux Indian Community v. Kraus-Anderson Const. Co. (Minn. App.). Here is the unpublished opinion.
Because Lower Sioux is not a necessary party to this litigation, we reverse the district court’s order joining Lower Sioux as a party and enjoining it from pursuing parallel tribal court litigation.The determination that Lower Sioux is not a necessary party is dispositive. Thus, we need not reach and do not reach the parties’ dispute over whether Lower Sioux waived its sovereign immunity, either contractually or by initiating the district court action. Nor do we take any position on the jurisdiction of the tribal court over the subcontractor respondents or whether the subcontractors may be joined as parties to the tribal court proceedings. Those determinations are for the tribal court. See Klammer v. Lower Sioux Convenience Store, 535 N.W.2d 379, 381 (Minn.App.1995) (explaining that comity requires allowing tribal court to determine its own jurisdiction); Rule 12(c) of the Lower Sioux Community in the State of Minnesota Judicial Code Rules of Civil Procedure, available at http://maiba.org/pdf/LowerSioux.pdf (addressing standard for joinder in tribal court). We also deny as moot Kraus-Anderson’s motions to modify the record and to strike portions of one respondent’s brief because the disputes raised by the motions are relevant only to the issues that we have declined to reach.
Here, the Minnesota Court of Appeals in an unpublished decision declined to dismiss a claim for tortious interference with contract and other claims, denying a Rule 19 (state law) motion. From the opinion:
Appellant challenges the district court’s denial of her motion to dismiss respondent’s complaint on the ground that it is barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Appellant asserts that the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (the tribe) is an indispensable party to the suit and that, because the tribe cannot be joined, the suit must be dismissed. We conclude that the tribe is neither a necessary nor an indispensable party and therefore affirm the district court’s decision.
Slip op. at 2.
The underlying dispute arose when the nonmember tribal casino employee was barred from the casino by the tribal court (and therefore terminated). The state trial court made disturbing statements about the tribal court, but the COA, while troubled, did not find those statements sufficient to reverse:
We agree that the district court’s comments are troubling. “‘Tribal courts have repeatedly been recognized as appropriate forums for the exclusive adjudication of disputes affecting important personal and property interests of both Indians and non-Indians.'” St. Pierre v. Norton, 498 F. Supp. 2d 214, 221 (D.D.C. 2007) (quoting Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49, 65-66, 98 S. Ct. 1670, 1680-81 (1978)); see also Lewis v. Norton, 424 F.3d 959, 962 (9th Cir. 2005) (“The issue is not whether the plaintiffs’ claims would be successful in these tribal forums, but only whether tribal forums exist that could potentially resolve the plaintiffs’ claims.”). The district court’s suggestion that the tribal courts could not provide an adequate alternative forum for Shepherd’s claims lacks foundation. The fact that Shepherd is the subject of a no-trespass order by the tribe does not necessarily mean that she cannot receive a fair trial of her claims against Stade in tribal court.
Slip op. at 10.
Well, not really, but this case, which the Supreme Court granted cert. on Dec. 3, involves the application of the necessary and indispensable party doctrine of Rule 19 to sovereigns (especially sovereigns raising sovereign immunity). Interestingly, a large portion (even perhaps a majority) of the cases cited in the cert. petitions and opps involve the application of Rule 19 to tribal sovereigns.
Last December, the federal court denied the Cherokee Nation’s motion to dismiss Vann v. Kempthorne. The Nation had argued that it was a necessary and indispensable party under FRCP 19. And, because it hadn’t waived its immunity, the Nation argued that the federal case must be dismissed. The United States argued that the case should be dismissed under the tribal court exhaustion doctrine. The court disagreed.