Justia Native American Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

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Plaintiff appealed the dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of its action against defendant, alleging tort, contract, and state statutory claims and seeking, among other remedies, a constructive trust and declaratory judgment over an oil and gas lease located on allotted land, wherein title to the land was held by the United States in trust for various Indian allottees. At issue was whether the district court had federal jurisdiction. The court held that 28 U.S.C. 1360(b), 28 U.S.C. 1331, and 25 U.S.C. 345 did not grant federal jurisdiction and therefore, plaintiff presented no basis for concluding that the action was within the "limited jurisdiction" of federal courts. Accordingly, the district court properly dismissed the suit based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction and the court did not need to reach any other issues raised by the parties, including exhaustion of tribal remedies. The court noted, however, that its holding did not preclude plaintiff from seeking relief in Blackfeet Tribal Court. View "K2 America Corp. v. Roland Oil & Gas. LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury, occurring within the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation in western Arizona. At issue was whether a district court could, over defense objection and after the administration of an unsuccessful Allen charge, inquire into the reasons for a trial jury's deadlock and then permit supplemental argument focused on those issues, where the issues in dispute were factual rather than legal. The court held that allowing such a procedure in a criminal trial was an abuse of the discretion accorded to the district courts in the management of jury deliberations. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "United States v. Evanston" on Justia Law

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This case arose when the Colorado River Indian Tribes ("CRIT") exercised jurisdiction over appellants, a non-Indian closely held corporation and its non-Indian owner, in an unlawful detainer action for breach of a lease of tribal lands and trespass. The tribal court entered judgment in favor of the tribe and appellants appealed. At issue was the extent of the CRIT's civil authority over appellants who were acting on tribal land within the reservation. The court held that under the circumstances presented, where there were no sufficient competing state interests at play, the tribe had regulatory jurisdiction through its inherent authority to exclude, independent from the power recognized in Montana v. United States. The court also held that adjudicative jurisdiction also existed in light of Supreme Court precedent recognizing tribes' inherent civil authority over non-Indian conduct on tribal land and congressional interest in promoting tribal self-government. The court further held that in this instance, by applying traditional personal jurisdiction principles, the tribal court had personal jurisdiction over a non-Indian agent acting on tribal land. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment as to the non-Indian corporation and reversed with respect to the non-Indian owner. View "Water Wheel Camp Recreational, et al. v. LaRance, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sued defendant seeking a declaratory judgment to the effect that defendant's liens were not valid, in whole or in part, where plaintiff received a substantial settlement from her insurer when she suffered serious injuries in a car accident and received extensive health care services from defendant. At issue was whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to defendant because it had a right to recover the money spent on plaintiff's medical care under 25 U.S.C. 1621e. The court reversed and held that section 1621e, which allowed healthcare providers to recover expenses from third-party tortfeasors, relevant insureres, or other third parties, did not apply to the action where defendant sought to enforce a right of recovery against plaintiff to whom it provided services.