Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Native American Law
United States v. Jim
The Miccosukee Indian Tribe and one of its members raised an affirmative defense that revenue distributions from gaming activities were exempt from taxation as Indian general welfare benefits under the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act (GWEA), 26 U.S.C. 139E. The Eleventh Circuit held that the distribution payments could not qualify as Indian general welfare benefits under GWEA because Congress specifically subjected such distributions to federal taxation in the Indian Gaming Revenue Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.; the member waived any arguments as to penalties or the amount assessed against her, and the tribe lacked a legal interest in those issues; and the district court did not err in entering judgment against the tribe because the tribe intervened as of right and the Government sought to establish its obligation to withhold taxes on the distributions. View "United States v. Jim" on Justia Law
Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians
Plaintiff filed suit against the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, alleging that she was terminated from her job because of her age pursuant to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 U.S.C. 621-634. The district court adopted the Magistrate’s Report and Recommendation to grant the Poarch Band's motion to dismiss the suit based on the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. In this case, there is no evidence that the Poarch Band waived its immunity, either generally or in the present suit. The court rejected plaintiff's comparison of the definitions of the term "employer" found in the ADEA and Title VII, in conjunction with the Supreme Court's opinion in Fitzpatrick v. Bitzer; plaintiff's argument that the ADEA is a statute of general applicability is foreclosed by the court's precedent; and other circuits that have considered the issue raised by this appeal also have determined that federal courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction over an ADEA claim asserted against a federally-recognized Indian tribe. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's decision to grant the Poarch Band’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. View "Williams v. Poarch Band of Creek Indians" on Justia Law
Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee
Plaintiff filed suit against the Casino, alleging unlawful gender discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., and Florida law. The Seminole Tribe of Florida owns and operates the Casino under the name “Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee.” The district court dismissed the suit because the Tribe is a federally recognized tribe entitled to sovereign immunity. The court affirmed the judgment, holding that the Tribe is indeed a federally recognized Indian tribe entitled to sovereign immunity. View "Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee" on Justia Law
Posted in: Native American Law
Alabama v. PCI Gaming Auth.
Alabama filed suit against PCI under state and federal law to enjoin gaming at casinos owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and located on Indian lands within the state’s borders. The district court rejected Alabama's claims of public nuisance and dismissed the action based on defendant's tribal immunity or failure to state a claim for relief. The court affirmed, concluding that PCI was entitled to tribal sovereign immunity on all claims; the Individual defendants were entitled to tribal sovereign immunity as to Alabama’s state law claim but not its claim under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 18 U.S.C. 1166-68; and Alabama failed to state a claim for relief under the IGRA because 18 U.S.C. 1166 gives states no right of action to sue. View "Alabama v. PCI Gaming Auth." on Justia Law
Seminole Tribe v. Stranburg
In this appeal, the court considered whether Florida’s Rental Tax and Florida’s Utility Tax, as applied to matters occurring on Seminole Tribe lands, violate the tenets of federal Indian law. The court held that Florida’s Rental Tax is expressly precluded by 25 U.S.C. 465, and, in the alternative, is preempted by the comprehensive federal regulation of Indian land leasing. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's order as to this issue. The court concluded, however, that the district court erred in placing the legal incidence of the Utility Tax on the Tribe and find that, on this record, the Tribe has not demonstrated that the Utility Tax is generally preempted by federal law. Therefore, the court reversed as to this issue and remanded for further proceedings. View "Seminole Tribe v. Stranburg" on Justia Law
Colbert v. United States
Plaintiffs filed suit against the United States, Attorney Kandis Martine, and Budget Rent-A-Car after plaintiffs were injured in a car accident caused by Martine. Martine, while driving a rental car to an adoption hearing, drove down the wrong direction on a one-way street and caused the accident. On appeal, the United States challenged the district court's partial summary judgment ruling that, under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. 1346 et seq., and under a self-determination contract entered into between the Department of Interior, BIA, and the Navajo Nation Tribe, Martine was "deemed" an employee of the BIA and afforded the full protection and coverage of the FTCA. The court concluded that the district court's decision concerning subject matter jurisdiction is consistent with the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. 450 et seq., statutory scheme; the terms of the self-determination contract; and the record evidence. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Colbert v. United States" on Justia Law
Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of FL Dept. of Revenue, et al.
The Tribe filed suit contending that a Florida tax on motor and diesel fuel purchased off tribal lands violated the Indian Commerce Clause, the Indian sovereignty doctrine, and the Equal Protection Clause. The court concluded that Florida has not waived its sovereign immunity from this federal suit. Without a valid abrogation by Congress, Florida was immune from suit regardless of the nature of the relief sought. Further, the Tribe could not circumvent the sovereign immunity of Florida by suing the Director of the Department based on the decision in Ex parte Young where the Department, not the Director, is the real, substantial party in interest in this suit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. View "Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of FL Dept. of Revenue, et al." on Justia Law
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of FL v. United States, et al
The Tribe filed a complaint regarding the government's management of the Central and Southern Florida Project for Flood Control in the Everglades. The gist of the four-count complaint the Tribe filed was that the project diverted excessive flood waters over tribal lands. The district court dismissed three of the complaint's counts for failure to state a claim for relief and the fourth on summary judgment. The court concluded that the district court properly dismissed Count I because the complaint contained nothing to support Count I's allegation that the Corps had an obligation to protect and not interfere with the Tribe's rights; the district court properly dismissed Count II because it contained no allegation of the process the Tribe claimed was due, much less that it was inadequate; the district court properly dismissed Count III because it failed for the same reasons the court found Count I insufficient to state a claim; and the district court properly dismissed Count IV because its allegations were vague and ambiguous. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of FL v. United States, et al" on Justia Law
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States
In 2010, the Commissioner issued four summonses to third-party financial institutions to determine whether the Miccosukee Tribe had complied with its federal withholding requirements during the period from 2006-2009. The Tribe petitioned to quash the summonses on the grounds of sovereign immunity, improper purpose, relevance, bad faith, and overbreadth. The district court denied those petitions. Because the court concluded that tribal sovereign immunity did not bar the issuance of these third-party summonses, the district court did not clearly err when it found that the summonses were issued for a proper purpose, and the Tribe lacked standing to challenge the summonses for overbreadth, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States" on Justia Law
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