Justia Native American Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States v. Pecore
In 2000 the Tribe received funding under the Hazardous Fuels Reduction program, created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to gradually reintroduce the beneficial aspects of fire into ecosystems such as densely-wooded forests. After obtaining BIA approval, the Tribe began HFR work in December 2000, and began invoicing BIA in 2001. Reports of diversions of funds prompted an inspection. Inspectors concluded that the invoices overstated the work done and that some of the work actually increased the risk of fire. A second inspection led to the conclusion that the defendants were submitting false invoices. After further investigation and failed settlement negotiations, the government filed a False Claims Act suit, 31 U.S.C. 3729-33, in 2007. After a nine-day trial, the defendants prevailed; they moved for attorney's fees under Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(1)(A), or sanctions under Rule 37(c)(2). The district court denied both motions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, acknowledging its discomfort with apparent "government overreaching." The government’s position throughout trial was substantially justified, so the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the EAJA motion. View "United States v. Pecore" on Justia Law
Wells Fargo Bank, Nat’l Assn v. Lake of the Torches Econ. Dev. Corp.
The Tribe operates a Wisconsin casino and financed investment in a Natchez, Mississippi riverboat casino by issuing bonds backed by casino revenue. The bank, as trustee, alleged that the Tribe had breached a bond indenture and sought appointment of a receiver to manage the trust security on behalf of the bondholder. The district court dismissed, holding that the indenture was void, as a gaming facility management contract not approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission (25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(9), 2711(a)(1)), and that the Tribe's waiver of sovereign immunity in the indenture was consequently void. The Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. The indenture was void so that the waiver of sovereign immunity cannot serve as a predicate for jurisdiction. The district court should have permitted the bank to file an amended complaint to the extent that it presented claims for legal and equitable relief in connection with the bond transaction on its own behalf and on behalf of the bondholder so that it could address whether the bank has standing to litigate claims on behalf of the bondholder and determine whether collateral documents, when read separately or together, waive sovereign immunity with respect to any such claims. View "Wells Fargo Bank, Nat'l Assn v. Lake of the Torches Econ. Dev. Corp." on Justia Law