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9th Circuit kills lawsuit over Buena Vista Rancheria compact

Filed Under: California | Compacts | Litigation
More on: 9th circuit, bia, buena vista, immunity
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a Class III gaming compact for the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians in California.

A group called Friends of Amador County sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs to invalidate the compact. But a federal judge said the lawsuit can't continue without the tribe's involvement.

On appeal, the 9th Circuit agreed. In an unpublished decision, the court said the tribe is a necessary party that can't be sued without its consent due to sovereign immunity.

"Appellants challenge the validity of the tribe’s federally recognized status but concede its existence," the court wrote. "Indeed, the tribe has been federally recognized since at least 1985 and it thus has 'the immunities and privileges available to other federally acknowledged Indian tribes by virtue of their government-to-government relationship with the United States.'"

"Appellants claim that the district court erred by disregarding their allegations that the tribe should not be federally recognized," the decision continued. "But the court cannot simply turn a blind eye to the tribe’s status as a federally recognized tribe in the Federal Register."

Oral arguments took place January 15. A copy is available on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Friends of Amador County v. Jewell.

Get the Story:
Federal appeals court rejects challenge to Amador casino (The Sacramento Bee 1/30)

9th Circuit Decision:
Friends of Amador County v. Jewell (January 29, 2014

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