Oregon approves protective new water quality standards

The standards will become effective once they receive EPA approval. The State’s press release reports that they were developed in collaboration with tribes and others and that they are designed to be protective of those, including tribal members, who consume large amounts of fish. The press release is here.

Tribal Court Case Studies: Grand Ronde Case

An interesting case (to me anyway) that has been winding its way through state, tribal, and now federal courts — a case involving an investment contract between the Grand Ronde Confederated Tribes and Strategic Wealth Management (and now its insurance company). In short, the deal between the two went bad and the parties ended up in state court, then before an arbitrator. The arbitrator ruled against the tribe, and awarded millions in attorney fees to SWM (but nothing else). The tribe refused to pay, arguing that it had not waived its immunity in relation to attorney fees, and SWM went to tribal court to enforce the arbitration award of attorney fees. The tribal court affirmed the tribe’s claim of immunity and now the case is in federal district court on a Montana 1 theory (huh?). Anyway, I wrote about this case as it went through the tribal court recently (here). And I personally know the two principals of SWM from my work at Pascua Yaqui a thousand years ago.

This may look like a tribe hiding behind sovereign immunity, but keep in mind that the Sizemore brothers (the SWM principals) prided themselves on being “experts” on federal Indian law (despite not being lawyers) and wrote the contract at issue. Moreover, the amount of atty fees awarded by the arbitrator was extraordinary (in the millions).

Contract with Strategic Wealth Management

State Court Order

AAA Decision

Tribal Court Order

Tribal Court of Appeals Opinion

Federal District Court Materials:

Federal Court Complaint

Plaintiff Motion for Summary Judgment

Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment

Plaintiff Response Brief

Defendant Response Brief

Plaintiff Reply Brief

Defendant Reply Brief

District Court Opinion