Editorial: Watch for appeal of tribal immunity case
"An Oklahoma attorney is considering going to the U.S. Supreme Court with a case that, if accepted by the high court, could have a great bearing on how business is conducted with American Indian tribes.

Jonathan Neff of Tulsa says he anticipates appealing to the Supreme Court a ruling made recently by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. In that ruling involving the Seneca-Cayuga tribe, the court said sovereign immunity prevented the tribe’s cigarette company from being sued.

Neff told the Tulsa World that the ruling leaves companies with no legal recourse if deals fall apart. The case "is an example of tribal management misrepresenting things in business transactions and then claiming sovereign immunity to avoid liability,” he said. And given how Indian businesses have grown and continue to grow, "this type of behavior represents a great risk to the business community generally, and for that reason the case needs to be taken to the Supreme Court for review.”

The court accepts only a fraction of the cases submitted. If Neff succeeds in getting in the door, he’ll have a captive audience back home."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Third opinion: Sovereignty question may go to high court (The Oklahoman 12/4)

10th Circuit Decision:
Native American Distributing v. Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco Co. (November 17, 2008)

Briefs and More Documents:
Turtle Talk

Related Stories:
10th Circuit upholds immunity for tribal business (11/24)