Federal Court Rejects Immunity Defense to Nonmember Challenge to Tribal Jurisdiction

Here are the materials in Big Horn County Elec. Coop. v. Big Man (D. Mont.):

79 Tribal Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

80 Response

81 Reply in Support of 79

83-4 Plaintiff Motion for Summary Judgment

85 Big Man Motion for Summary Judgment

88 Tribal Board Motion for Summary Judgment

97 Magistrate Report

98 DCT Order Denying 79

Prior post here.

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria

Here is the order list.

Cert stage materials here.

Lower court materials here.

Federal Court Orders Tribal Exhaustion in Employment Discrimination Case [Chippewa Cree Tribe]

Here are the materials in Walker v. Windy Boy (D. Mont.):

1 Complaint

10 Motion to Dismiss

20 Response

25 Reply

32 DCT Order

Kurowski v. Kurowski Cert Petition


Cert Petition


Questions presented:

Upon tribal court exhaustion must District Courts perform a threshold inquiry to protect the Indian Petitioners’ federal 25 U.S.C. § 1302 rights?

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.

Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria Cert Petition



Questions presented:

“[T]he inherent sovereign powers of an Indian tribe do not extend to the activities of nonmembers of the tribe.” Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544, 565 (1981). The Montana Court recognized two limited narrow exceptions to that rule. But the Court has never resolved the question of whether tribal courts may ever exercise civil tort jurisdiction over nonmembers. In Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co., 554 U.S. 316 (2008) and in Dollar General Corporation and Dolgencorp, LLC v. The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, et. al. 136 S.Ct. 2159 (2016) the issue was brought before this Court, but unanswered. This case presents the issue of: Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers?

Further this case presents the issue of: If the Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims over nonmembers, what is the prerequisite notice of any such authority, what is the prerequisite consent thereto by a nonmember, and what is the viable scope of such jurisdiction so as to satisfy the Due Process rights of a nonmember?

Lower court materials here.


Brief in Opposition–PDFA

Muscogee Freedmen Descendants Forced to Exhaust Tribal Remedies

Here is the order in Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band v. Bernhardt (D.D.C.):

29 DCT Order

Briefs here.

Ninth Circuit Panel Grants Rehearing in Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria

Maybe this is nothing, but this is a little bit WEIRD . . . in that the Ninth Circuit’s opinions webpage links to an order granting rehearing (here) but there was no response brief docketed AND there is nothing on the court’s docket sheet indicating the petition was granted.

Here is the petition BTW:

Knighton Petition for Rehearing

Panel materials here.


Federal Court Excuses Insurance Company from Tribal Court Jurisdiction

Here are the materials in Employers Mutual Casualty Company v. Branch (D. Ariz.):

1 Complaint

1-2 Coconino County Court Materials


22 Navajo MSJ

25 EMCC Reply

28 Navajo Reply

32 DCT Order