Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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This was an appeal from the approval of a class action settlement agreement related to the Secretary of the Interior's breach of duty to account for funds held in trust for individual Native Americans. The court concluded that the record failed to confirm either the existence of a purported intra-class conflict or a violation of due process. Rather, the record confirmed that the two plaintiff classes possess the necessary commonality and adequate representation to warrant certification, and that the district court, therefore, did not abuse its discretion in certifying the two plaintiff classes in the settlement or in approving the terms of the settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to Rule 23(e). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment approving the class settlement agreement. View "Cobell, et al. v. Salazar, et al." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individuals claiming to be the Tribal Council of the Timbisha Shoshone, argued that the Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act, Pub. L. No. 108-270, section 3, 118 Stat. 805, 806, was an unconstitutional taking of tribal property. The district court granted the Government's motion to dismiss, holding that the Distribution Act was constitutional. Plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that plaintiffs lacked standing where the court had a letter from the Executive Branch recognizing the Gholson faction, not Kennedy faction, and therefore, the court did not reach the merits. Accordingly, the court vacated the judgment and remanded with instructions to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. View "Timbisha Shoshone Tribe, et al. v. Salazar, et al." on Justia Law

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The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians ("Buena Vista") entered into a compact with California to engage in gaming on its tribal land and then petitioned the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary") for approval of the compact. Amador County, in which Buena Vista's land was located, challenged the Secretary's "no-action" approval claiming that the land at issue failed to qualify as "Indian land." At issue was whether Amador County lacked constitutional standing to maintain the suit and whether a compact, that was deemed approved where he failed to act within the 45 day limit, was reviewable. The court held that Amador County had standing where its allegations were more than sufficient to establish concrete and particularized harm and where Amador County could easily satisfy the requirements of causation and redressability. The court also held that where, as here, a plaintiff alleged that a compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(8)(C), and required the Secretary to disapprove the compact, nothing in the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 701(a)(2), precluded judicial review of a subsection (d)(8)(C) no-action approval. Accordingly, the court remanded to give the district court the opportunity to assess the merits of the suit.