Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Tohono O’odham Nation

The Nation and the State executed a gaming compact in 2002 pursuant to the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. 2701-2721. After the Compact was approved by the Secretary of the Interior and became effective in 2003, the Nation purchased an unincorporated parcel of land within the outer boundaries of Glendale, Arizona, pursuant to the federal Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act (LRA). Plaintiffs filed suit against the Nation seeking to enjoin the Nation's plan to conduct Class III gaming on Parcel 2. The district court granted summary judgment to the Nation. The court concluded that, under the ordinary meaning of the words used in the statutory text, the Nation plainly had “land claims” for damage to its reservation lands; were the court to find the term “land claim” to be ambiguous, and proceeded under Chevron to apply the DOI’s definition of the term, then the court would find that the Nation also had a claim concerning the impairment of title or other real property interest or loss of possession of its reservation land; and the district court did not err in determining that the LRA was a “settlement” of the Nation’s land claims. The court also concluded that the district court properly rejected plaintiffs' claims of judicial estoppel and waiver; the duly-executed Compact negotiated at length by sophisticated parties expressly authorizes the Nation to conduct gaming on its “Indian Lands,” subject to the requirements of section 2719 of IGRA; because Parcel 2 complies with the requirements of section 2719, and the Compact expressly allows the Nation to conduct Class III gaming there, the district court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of the Nation on plaintiffs’ breach of Compact claim; the Nation's choice to conduct Class III gaming in accordance with the express terms of the Compact does not deviate from the agreed common purpose of the Compact, and therefore does not breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; and the district court correctly concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiffs’ non-Compact claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Gila River Indian Cmty. v. Tohono O'odham Nation" on Justia Law