Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
Countour Spa at the Hard Rock, v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al.
This case arose out of a leasing agreement between Contour and the Seminole Tribe. Contour appealed from a district court order dismissing its Amended Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on account of the Tribe's sovereign immunity. The district court rejected Contour's arguments and affirmed the judgment. Because the problems of inconsistency and unfairness that were inherent in the procedural posture of Lapides v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga. were absent in this case, and because an Indian tribe's sovereign immunity was of a far different character than a state's Eleventh Amendment immunity, the court declined to extend Lapides. In regards to Contour's Indian Civil Rights Act, 25 U.S.C. 1301-1303, claim, it must fail because the Supreme Court had already held that Indian tribes were immune from suit under the statute. Finally, in regards to the equitable estoppel claim, that claim was unavailable because it was grounded on a waiver provision contained within a lease agreement that was wholly invalid as a matter of law. View "Countour Spa at the Hard Rock, v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al." on Justia Law
Furry v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Plaintiff-Appellant John Furry, as personal representative of the estate of his daughter Tatiana Furry, appealed a district court’s order granting the Miccosukee Tribe’s motion to dismiss his complaint. He complained that the Miccosukee Tribe violated 18 U.S.C. 1161 and Florida’s dram shop law by knowingly serving excessive amounts of alcohol to his daughter, who then got in her car, drove off while intoxicated, and ended up in a fatal head-on collision with another vehicle on a highway just outside Miami. The Miccosukee Tribe moved to dismiss the complaint on the jurisdictional ground that it was immune from suit under the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. In its order granting the tribe's motion to dismiss, the district court determined that tribal sovereign immunity barred it from entertaining the suit. Upon review, the Eleventh Circuit agreed: "The Supreme Court has made clear that a suit against an Indian tribe is barred unless the tribe has clearly waived its immunity or Congress has expressly and unequivocally abrogated that immunity. [Plaintiff argued] that both of these exceptions have been met here, but these arguments are ultimately without merit." View "Furry v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida" on Justia Law
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of FL, et al. v. South Florida Water Mgmt., et al.
This case stemmed from a suit filed by plaintiffs against the Water District to enjoin the Water District from pumping polluted canal water into Lake Okeechobee. The Tribe joined the suit on plaintiffs' side. The Tribe subsequently appealed the district court's denial of its motion for attorneys' fees. The court affirmed the district court's finding that the Tribe was not a "prevailing party" because, although the district court had ruled in its favor, the decision was overturned on appeal. View "Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of FL, et al. v. South Florida Water Mgmt., et al." on Justia Law
Hollywood Mobile Estates Ltd. v. Seminole Tribe
Hollywood Mobile Estates Limited ("Hollywood") filed a complaint in district court against the Seminole Tribe of Florida ("Tribe") where the Tribe and the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary") approved a lease assignment between Hollywood and the Tribe. At issue was whether Hollywood alleged an injury fairly traceable to the Secretary or redressable by the district court in a complaint that alleged that the Tribe had threatened to repossess tribal property in violation of the lease. Also at issue was whether the interests of Hollywood were within the zone of interests protected by the Indian Long-Term Leasing Act, 25 U.S.C. 415, and its accompanying regulations. The court held that Hollywood lacked constitutional standing to maintain its complaint and therefore, vacated in part the judgment entered by the district court and remanded with instructions to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court also held that Hollywood lacked prudential standing to sue the Secretary and therefore, affirmed the denial of the motion for leave to amend the complaint as futile.