Eighth Circuit Decides DISH Network Must Exhaust Tribal Court Remedies in Dispute at Turtle Mountain

Here is the opinion in DISH Network v. Laducer:

CA8 Opinion

Briefs are here.

Lower court materials are here.

Federal Court Vacates Default Judgment in Penobscot Business-Related Defamation Suit

Here are the materials in Russell v. Krowne (D. Md.):

DCT Order Vacating Default Judgment

Penoscot Indian Nation Motion for Default Judgment

Defendant Motion to Vacate

Penobscot Response to Motion to Vacate

Defendant Reply

Strange case; seems to involve a program created by Penobscot called Grant America Program, which is  home buyer down payment program, and the defendants’ website, which published internet posts calling the program a “scam.” The Nation and its allies claim defamation, and the defendants call the suit a SLAPP suit.

 

Opening Eighth Circuit Brief in Montana 1 Case out of Turtle Mountain Tribal Court (UPDATED with Answer and Reply Briefs)

Here is the brief in DISH Network Service LLC v. Laducer:

DISH Network Opening Brief

And the answer brief:

Tribal Court Brief

And the reply brief:

DISH Network Reply Brief

Lower court materials here and here.

Federal Court Decides “Montana 1” Case in Favor of Tribal Interests

Here are the materials in DISH Network v. Laducer (D. N.D.):

Laducer v DISH Tribal Court Complaint

Turtle Mtn Tribal Court Denial of Motion to Dismiss

TMAC Order Denying Interlocutory Appeal

DISH Motion for PI

DCT Order Denying DISH Motion for PI

From the opinion:

This dispute implicates the first Montana exception. Dish Network argues this case involves no activity that took place on the reservation, and that it only concerns the filing of two third-party complaints against Brian Laducer. However, the contract between Dish Network and Brian Laducer lies at the heart of this protracted dispute. In his Tribal Court complaint, Brian Laducer alleges “Dish Network has taken advantage and abused the legal process to harm Mr. Laducer.” Determining whether Dish Network abused the legal process will undoubtedly involve an examination of the contract between Dish Network and Brian Laducer. Dish Network voluntarily entered into a contract with Brian Laducer, an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, to provide services on the reservation. By entering into a consensual contractual relationship with tribal members on tribal land, Dish Network subjected itself to the jurisdiction of the Tribal Court. This factor weighs against granting a preliminary injunction.

And here are the state court materials leading into the tribal court case (the case started in state court, was removed to federal court, and remanded back to state court, which determined it did not have jurisdiction):

State Court Transcript

State Court Summary Judgment Order against Laducer

State Court Dismissal Order Memorandum

SLAPP Lawsuits and the Tribal Court Exhaustion Doctrine

There’s an interesting exchange in a District of North Dakota case (Laducer v. DISH Network) involving an allegation that a non-Indian-owned business claim that a tribal court has no jurisdiction over it is actually a SLAPP lawsuit. A SLAPP lawsuit — strategic lawsuit against public participation — often is a frivolous countersuit by a corporate defendant against an individual plaintiff designed to bleed the plaintiff’s finances dry, effectively ending the original case. In this instance, it doesn’t appear that the facts support the claim.

But what if an Indian plaintiff brings a legitimate claim against a non-Indian in tribal court, and the defendant frivolously brings a federal court action to shut down the tribal court action? The non-Indian likely would not be subject to Rule 11 sanctions for filing a frivolous claim because the Supreme Court’s Montana jurisprudence is so negatively swayed against tribal jurisdiction that even easy cases are not easy (see the Water Wheel case). Any non-Indian defendant can bleed a tribal plaintiff dry.

Here are the materials:

Brian Laducer Motion to Dismiss

DISH Network Response

Brian Laducer Reply