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Section 511(a) of the Veterans' Judicial Review Act barred the Community's action against the VA for failing to reimburse the Community for the care it provided to veterans at tribal facilities. In this case, the Community sought review of the VA's determination that two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not require the VA to reimburse the Community absent a sharing agreement. The panel held that such a determination fell under the jurisdictional bar of section 511(a) because it was plainly a question of law that affected the provision of benefits by the Secretary of the VA to veterans, and the relief requested could clearly affect the provision of benefits. The panel also held that the presumption in Montana v. Blackfeet Tribe of Indians, 471 U.S. 759, 766 (1985), did not apply to section 511(a). Finally, the Community's argument that the district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1362 was waived. View "Gila River Indian Community v. US Department of Veterans Affairs" on Justia Law

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Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town (“AQTT”) appeals several orders entered in favor of the United States, the Secretary and Associate Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI”), the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (the “Creek Nation”). AQTT was a federally recognized Indian Tribe organized under the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act (“OIWA”). AQTT filed a complaint against the United States and several federal officials (collectively, the “Federal Defendants”) alleging property known as the Wetumka Project lands were purchased under OIWA for the benefit of AQTT. It requested a declaratory judgment and an order compelling the government to assign the Wetumka Project lands to AQTT and provide AQTT with a full and complete accounting of related trust funds and assets. On the Federal Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings, the district court dismissed AQTT’s claim for land assignment and denied the motion as to an accounting of trust assets. The parties then promptly filed cross-motions for summary judgment. All were denied. The case was remanded to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (“IBIA”) for further development of the trust accounting issue. After the IBIA decided that the government did not hold any funds in trust for AQTT, the case returned to district court. AQTT filed an amended complaint, adding the Creek Nation as a defendant and arguing that the IBIA’s decision was arbitrary and capricious. The Creek Nation moved to dismiss, and that motion was granted on sovereign immunity grounds. In the amended complaint, AQTT also attempted to revive its land assignment claim based on newly discovered evidence. The district court again dismissed the claim. AQTT and the Federal Defendants then renewed their crossmotions for summary judgment. The district court upheld the IBIA’s decision. In granting the government’s motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, the district court dismissed AQTT’s claims for assignment of the Wetumka Project lands for failure to join the Creek Nation, an indispensable party because the IBIA determined the Creek Nation, not AQTT, was the legal beneficiary of the funds related to the Wetumka Project lands. In affirming the district court, the Tenth Circuit concluded the IBIA’s determination was supported by substantial evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious: the deeds of conveyance for the Wetumka Project lands plainly placed the land in trust for the Creek Nation, and did not create a vested beneficial interest in any other entity. View "Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for the United States in an action seeking to collect delinquent federal excise taxes and penalties for the manufacture of tobacco products under 26 U.S.C. 5701. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the panel held that the amended judgment sufficiently specified both the amount of money due to the plaintiff and a formula for computing that amount of money. The panel also held that a tobacco manufacturer located on trust land was subject to a federal excise tax applicable to all tobacco products manufactured in the United States under 26 U.S.C. 5702. In this case, King Mountain manufactures and grows tobacco products on lands held in trust by the United States, within the boundaries of the Yakama Nation. Finally, the panel rejected King Mountain's claim of exemption based on either the General Allotment Act of 1887 or the Treaty with the Yakamas of 1855. View "United States v. King Mountain Tobacco Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court terminating Mother’s parental rights to her two children, holding that the court erred in proceeding with termination of parental rights in the absence of a conclusive tribal determination regarding each child’s status as an Indian child defined by the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a threshold determination of whether the two children were Indian children based on a conclusive tribal determination of tribal membership and eligibility in the Blackfeet Tribe. The Court noted that the district court may re-enter judgment against Mother on the merits of its prior findings of fact and conclusions of law if it found and concluded on a conclusive tribal determination that the two children are not Indian children. View "In re D.E." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to California and the United States in an action seeking injunctive relief prohibiting the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel from continuing to operate Desert Rose Casino. The panel held that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) protects gaming activity conducted on Indian lands. However, a patron's act of placing a bet or wager on a game of Desert Rose Bingo (DRB) while located in California constitutes gaming activity that is not located on Indian lands. Therefore, it violates the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and was not protected by the IGRA. The panel further held that, even if Iipay was correct that all of the "gaming activity" associated with DRB occurred on Indian lands, the patrons' act of placing bets or wagers over the internet while located in a jurisdiction where those bets or wagers was illegal makes Iipay's decision to accept financial payments associated with those bets or wagers a violation of the UIGEA. View "California v. Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel" on Justia Law

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Tribal police arrested Shaula Marie George for possession of methamphetamine on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. Upon discovery that George was not a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, the case was referred to the Kootenai County district court. George filed a motion to dismiss based on lack of jurisdiction. The district court granted George’s motion, finding that despite the fact that George was not eligible to become a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, George was an Indian; thus, the district court did not have jurisdiction. To determine whether a defendant is an Indian for jurisdictional purposes courts have applied some variation of a test developed in United States v. Rogers, 45 U.S. 567 (1846), which considers the degree of Indian blood and tribal or government recognition as Indian. Later case law has held enrollment in a tribe is not an absolute requirement for recognition as an Indian. Whether a non-tribe member can be considered an Indian for jurisdictional purposes is a matter of first impression for the Idaho Supreme Court. The district court determined that despite the fact George is not eligible to become a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe she still satisfied the two- prong test: (1) she possessed a significant percentage of Indian blood; and (2) she had been recognized as an Indian by either the federal government or some tribe or society of Indians. While George was not qualified for enrollment due to an economic policy decision, the district court found that George had extensive ties to the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Finding no error in the district court judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed its jurisdiction determination. View "Idaho v. George" on Justia Law

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H.S. and James E. appealed an order terminating parental rights to their son, Collin E. In July 2015, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (Agency) filed a petition under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300 (b) on behalf of the 13-month-old Collin. The petition alleged Collin's mother, H.S., had left him unattended in her car while she was under the influence of a prescription narcotic medication. Police officers arrested H.S. for willful cruelty to a child and being under the influence. H.S. told officers she had taken 50 mg of morphine prescribed for pain caused by a brain tumor. The Agency alleged Collin had suffered, or was at substantial risk of suffering, serious physical harm or illness due to his parents' inability to provide adequate care. James (father) and H.S. argued there was no substantial evidence to support the Indian Child Welfare Act finding that continued custody of the child by the parents was likely to result in serious emotional or physical damage to the child. They also argued the juvenile court erred when it determined the beneficial parent-child relationship exception did not apply and terminated parental rights. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "In re Collin E." on Justia Law

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Appellants, the Navajo Nation and its wholly-owned government enterprise the Northern Edge Navajo Casino (together, the “Tribe” or “Nation”), entered into a state-tribal gaming compact with New Mexico under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”). The Tribe agreed not only to waive its sovereign immunity for personal-injury lawsuits brought by visitors to its on-reservation gaming facilities, but also to permit state courts to take jurisdiction over such claims. Harold and Michelle McNeal were plaintiffs in such a state-court action against the Tribe. Mr. McNeal allegedly slipped on a wet floor in the Northern Edge Navajo Casino. This incident constituted the basis for the McNeals’ tort claims against the Nation for negligence, res ipsa loquitur, and loss of consortium. The Tribe moved to dismiss the McNeals’ complaint, arguing that the state court lacked jurisdiction because neither IGRA nor Navajo law permitted the shifting of jurisdiction to a state court over such personal-injury claims. The state court rejected that motion. In response, the Tribe sought declaratory relief in federal court on the basis of the same arguments. The district court granted summary judgment for the McNeals, holding that IGRA permitted tribes and states to agree to shift jurisdiction to the state courts and that Navajo law did not prohibit such an allocation of jurisdiction. Along with the jurisdictional issue, the parties also disputed: (1) whether IGRA permitted an Indian tribe to allocate jurisdiction over a tort claim arising on Indian land to a state court; and (2) assuming that IGRA did allow for such an allocation, whether the Navajo Nation Council (“NNC”) was empowered to shift jurisdiction to the state court under Navajo Law. The Tenth Circuit determined that IGRA, under its plain terms, did not authorize an allocation of jurisdiction over tort claims of the kind at issue here. Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court and remanded with instructions to grant the declaratory relief sought by the Nation. View "Navajo Nation v. Dalley" on Justia Law

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Allergan’s Restasis Patents relate to a treatment for alleviating the symptoms of chronic dry eye. In 2015, Allergan sued, alleging infringement of the Restasis Patents based on Mylan’s filings of Abbreviated New Drug Applications. Mylan, Teva, and Akorn sought inter partes review of the patents. The Patent Board instituted IPR and scheduled a consolidated oral hearing. Before the hearing, Allergan and the Tribe entered into an agreement Mylan alleges was intended to protect the patents from review. A patent assignment transferring the Restasis patents from Allergan to the Tribe was recorded with the Patent Office. The Tribe moved to terminate the IPRs, arguing it is entitled to assert tribal sovereign immunity; Allergan moved to withdraw. The Board denied both motions. The Federal Circuit affirmed. IPR is neither clearly a judicial proceeding instituted by a private party nor clearly an enforcement action brought by the federal government: tribal sovereign immunity may not be asserted in IPR proceedings. View "Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc." on Justia Law

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Daniel Peltier appealed an order denying his motion for relief from a child support judgment. Peltier argued the district court erred in denying his motion because the Turtle Mountain Tribal Court had exclusive subject matter jurisdiction to decide his child support obligation. The North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the state district court had concurrent jurisdiction to decide Peltier's child support obligation, and the district court did not err in denying his motion for relief from the judgment. View "North Dakota v. Peltier" on Justia Law