Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Employment Law
Kroner v. Oneida Seven Generations Corp.
This case concerned a circuit court's order to transfer to a tribal court a civil suit that was brought against a tribally owned entity by a nonmember of the tribe. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the circuit court erroneously exercised its discretion when it transferred the action to tribal court. At issue was the interpretation and application of Wis. Stat. 801.54, which authorizes the circuit court, in its discretion, to transfer an action to the tribal court and sets forth the conditions for doing so. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the facts and the applicable law were not fully stated and considered together in making the determinations that the statute requires, the order to transfer was an erroneous exercise of the circuit court's discretion. Remanded. View "Kroner v. Oneida Seven Generations Corp." on Justia Law
Waltrip v. Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino
An employee of a tribal enterprise sought to invoke the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court. Petitioner John A. Waltrip fell on a patch of ice while working as a surveillance supervisor at a casino and injured primarily his right shoulder. Petitioner initially obtained treatment from his personal physician but Tribal First, the employer Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino's claim administrator, sent him to an orthopedic specialist who recommended surgery in 2009. Petitioner filed a claim in the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court on July 17, 2009, seeking medical treatment and temporary total disability. The Casino and Insurer Hudson Insurance Company asserted that court lacked jurisdiction based on the tribe's sovereign immunity. A hearing was held solely on the jurisdictional issue; the Workers' Compensation Court denied jurisdiction and dismissed the claim holding that the tribe enjoyed sovereign immunity and that the provisions of the tribe's workers' compensation policy did not subject the insurance company to liability for claims in state court. The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari review. Upon review, the Supreme Court held that: (1) the tribe enjoyed sovereign immunity and was not therefore subject to the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court; and (2) the workers' compensation insurer did not enjoy the tribe's immunity and was estopped to deny coverage under a policy for which it accepted premiums computed in part on the employee's earnings.View "Waltrip v. Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino" on Justia Law
Dilliner v. Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma
Twenty three former tribal employees sued the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma for breach of employment contracts. The contracts contained a limited waiver of sovereign immunity. Tribal law requires that waiver of sovereign immunity must be consented to by the Business Committee of the Tribe by resolution. The trial judge, on motion for reconsideration, granted the Tribe's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and dismissed the case. On appeal, the question before the Supreme Court was whether the Tribe expressly and unequivocally waived its sovereign immunity with respect to Plaintiffs' employment contracts. Upon review of the contracts and the applicable tribal resolutions and legal standards, the Supreme Court held that waiver of sovereign immunity was neither expressed nor consented to in the Business Committee's resolutions that authorized the Chief to sign the employment contracts. The Court affirmed the lower court’s decision.View "Dilliner v. Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma " on Justia Law