Justia Construction Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Native American Law
Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Wichita & Affiliated Tribes
In 2015, Wichita and affiliated tribes made plans to build a History Center on a plot of land held by the federal government in trust for the Wichita Tribe, Delaware Nation, and Caddo Nation jointly. One of those neighbors, the Caddo Nation, claimed the land may contain remains of ancestral relatives. Before the Wichita Tribe began construction, Caddo Nation sued the Wichita Tribe for allegedly violating the procedures required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) throughout the planning process. Caddo Nation sought an emergency temporary restraining order preventing Wichita Tribe from continuing construction until it complied with those procedures. When the district court denied that request, Caddo Nation appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals without seeking further preliminary relief. In the intervening year while the case was on appeal with the Tenth Circuit, Wichita Tribe completed construction of the History Center. The Tenth Circuit concluded it had no jurisdiction over this appeal because the relief Caddo Nation requested from the district court was moot. View "Caddo Nation of Oklahoma v. Wichita & Affiliated Tribes" on Justia Law
Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians
The Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians and Findleton entered into the Construction Agreement for a gaming facility. In 2008 (10 months later), the Tribe suspended construction because the financial meltdown had adversely affected its ability to secure financing. In 2012, Findleton sought to compel ADR under the Agreement The Tribe asserted that it had not waived its sovereign immunity or consented to suit in the state court and that Findleton’s failure to exhaust his tribal administrative remedies deprived the court of jurisdiction. Findleton cited resolutions by the Tribal Council, waiving immunity. The Tribe has a General Council, consisting of all tribal members 18 years or older, and the Tribal Council, an elective body consisting of seven members of the General Council whose powers are more narrowly circumscribed. The Tribe’s constitution does not permit the Tribal Council to waive sovereign immunity without the General Council’s “consent” and “prior approval.” The court of appeal reversed the trial court’s dismissal of the action, finding that the Council was authorized to waive the Tribe’s immunity and did so in resolutions adopted in 2008 and on June 2, 2007, “in order to attract other individuals and entities to do business with the Tribe.” View "Findleton v. Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians" on Justia Law
Arrow Midstream Holdings, LLC v. 3 Bears Construction, LLC
Arrow Midstream Holdings, LLC and Arrow Pipeline, LLC (collectively "Arrow") appealed, and Tesla Enterprises, LLC ("Tesla") cross-appealed, a judgment dismissing without prejudice for lack of jurisdiction its action against 3 Bears Construction, LLC and Tesla for breach of contract and a declaration that Tesla's pipeline construction lien was invalid. In 2013, Arrow hired 3 Bears to be the general contractor for the construction of a pipeline located on a right-of-way easement acquired by Arrow from the Bureau of Indian Affairs over Indian trust land on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. 3 Bears entered into a subcontract with Tesla to supply materials and labor for the construction. 3 Bears was owned by two members of the Three Affiliated Tribes ("Tribe") and was certified under the Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance ("TERO"). 3 Bears claimed Arrow was a covered employer who was required to comply with TERO rules. After the pipeline was completed, a dispute arose between 3 Bears and Tesla concerning amounts Tesla claimed it was owed by 3 Bears for work Tesla performed. In mid-2014, Tesla sent Arrow a notice of right to file a pipeline lien under N.D.C.C. ch. 35-24. Tesla recorded the pipeline lien against Arrow in the Dunn County recorder's office in June 2014. In July 2014, Arrow commenced this action in state district court challenging the validity of the pipeline lien, seeking indemnification, and claiming 3 Bears breached the parties' contract. In August 2014, 3 Bears moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In November 2014, 3 Bears filed a complaint against Tesla and Arrow in Fort Berthold Tribal Court. 3 Bears sought a declaration that the pipeline lien was invalid, alleged Arrow had breached the master service contract, and requested an award of damages. In December 2014, the state district court agreed with 3 Bears' argument that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the lawsuit. The court concluded "exercising jurisdiction over this action under the circumstances presented here would infringe upon Tribal sovereignty." The court further concluded, "at the very least, Arrow and Tesla, as a matter of comity, should be required to exhaust their tribal court remedies before this Court exercises jurisdiction." The court dismissed the action "without prejudice to allow any of the parties to re-open the case without payment of another filing fee should it become necessary for purposes of enforcing the Tribal Court action or for any other reason." After review of the matter, the North Dakota Supreme Court reversed and remanded, concluding the district court had jurisdiction over this lawsuit. View "Arrow Midstream Holdings, LLC v. 3 Bears Construction, LLC" on Justia Law
Outsource Servs. Mgmt. v. Nooksack Bus. Corp.
At issue in this case was whether Washington State courts have jurisdiction over a civil case arising out of a contract in which the tribal corporation waived its sovereign immunity and consented to jurisdiction in Washington State courts. The Washington Supreme Court held that it did not infringe on the sovereignty of the tribe to honor its own corporation's decision to enter into a contract providing for jurisdiction in Washington State courts. View "Outsource Servs. Mgmt. v. Nooksack Bus. Corp." on Justia Law
State of South Dakota, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, et al.
The State challenged the Secretary's decision to accept four parcels of land within the geographic boundaries of the State into trust for the benefit of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of the Lake Traverse Reservation, a federally recognized Indian tribe. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Secretary and the State appealed. The court held that, because the State lacked standing to bring a constitutional due process claim and did not raise any additional arguments on appeal, the State was not entitled to relief. The court dismissed and did not reach the merits. View "State of South Dakota, et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, et al." on Justia Law