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Indian Law
Key Cases
Key Cases

Portland Harbor Superfund Cleanup
Ongoing cooperative cleanup and natural resource damage restoration effort at polluted harbor in Portland, Oregon. 

U.S. Supreme Court - Tribal Lake Ownership

Tribal Sovereignty - Lake Ownership - U.S. S.Ct. 2001
U.S. Supreme Court held Tribe/United States owned Lake Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe River within Coeur d’Alene Reservation against State.  Idaho v. U.S. and Coeur d’Alene Tribe, 533 U.S. 262 (2001), 210 F.3d 1067 (9th Cir. 2000) (Won), 95 F. Supp.2d 1094 (D. Idaho 1998) (Won).Supreme Court

Federal Court Jurisdiction - Lake Ownership - U.S. S.Ct. 1997
Court held Eleventh Amendment barred Federal Court jurisdiction over State officials regarding claim for ownership of submerged lands.  Idaho, et al. v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe, 521 U.S. 261 (1997), 42 F.3d 1244 (1994) (Won); 798  F. Supp. 1443 (1992) (Lost).

Pollution Cleanup - Tribal Homeland

Superfund Natural Resources Damages Lawsuit - U.S. D.Ct. Idaho 2003
Mining companies found liable for natural resource injury under Superfund laws.  Coeur d'Alene tribe v. Asarco et al 280 Fed. Supp. 2d. 1094 (2003)

Superfund Bankruptcy - Tribal Claim - Idaho Bankruptcy Ct. 1995
Settled Favorably
Court confirmed plan that paid $20+ million of bankrupt’s assets to United States and Tribe for Coeur d’Alene Basin cleanup.  Gulf Resources Bankruptcy, U.S. Bankruptcy Ct. Idaho (1995).

Hanford Nuclear Site Superfund Lawsuit U.S. Dist Court Eastern Washington
Ongoing litigation and administrative effort and cleanup and restore natural resource injury and cold war plutonium Pollutant Production Facility in South Central Washington, largest superfund site in the United States. 

Railroad Abandonment/Superfund Settlement - U.S. D.Ct. D.C. 1994
Court halted abandonment (salvage) of Plummer-Mullen rail line until ICC completed EIS.  Eventually settled case by UP cleaning up pollution and paying for installing maintenance of bike trail ($25 million), and conveying trail interest to Tribe and State (partner negotiated). In re Union Pacific Abandonment, 35 F.3d 585 (1994).


Indian Gaming

Voters Rights - Indian Gaming Initiative  - Idaho S.Ct. 2002
Court allowed people to vote on Tribes’ Indian Gaming Initiative - dismiss lawsuit to remove Initiative from ballot.  Noh v. Cenarrusa and Stensgar, ____ P.3d  ____ (Idaho 2002).

National Indian Lottery - 9th Cir. 2002
Court upheld Tribe’s right to conduct interstate National Indian Lottery from Reservation.  AT&T v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe, 295 F.3d 899 (9th Cir. 2002).

Indian Gaming - Federal Court Jurisdiction - 8th Cir. 1999
Court allowed removal to federal court of Internet Indian gaming case where only State claims pled.  Case eventually settled.  Nixon v. Coeur d’Alene Tribe, et al., 164 F.3d 1102 (8th Cir. 1999).

Indian Gaming Compact Negotiations - Negotiable Games - 9th Cir. 1995
Court limited issues negotiable in Indian gaming compact, following similar 9th Cir. case decided two weeks before argument.  Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. Idaho, 51 F.3d 876 (9th Cir. 1995), 842 F. Supp. 1268 (D. Idaho 1994).


Tribal Sovereignty - State Taxation

Tribal Sovereignty - State Gas Tax - Tribal Stations - U.S. D.Ct. Idaho 2002
Court held State cannot tax fuel sold by tribal and individually owned stations because amended state statute still placed incidence of tax on tribal retailer.   Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. Hammond, 2002 WL 31115066 (D. Idaho) (associate argued).

Tribal Sovereignty - State Use/Sales Tax - Tribal Construction -  Idaho Tax Commission 2002
State Tax Commission abandoned its staff’s efforts to tax materials used by tribal contractors and subcontractors on tribal casino construction.

Tribal Sovereignty - State Gas Tax - Tribal Stations - Idaho S.Ct. 2001
Court held State could not tax any gas sold at tribal gas stations because incidence of fuel tax on tribal gas stations, a position urged by Tribal amicus but not advocated by either of the other parties.  Created claim for large refund. Goodman Oil v. State Tax Comm’n, 136 Idaho 53, 28 P.3d 996 (2001).


Other Tribal or Indian Cases

Breach of Trust Oil Lease - U.S. Court of Federal Claims
Pending litigation regarding U.S.'s failure to collect fair annual rental for allotment leased to oil company at Prudhoe Bay for oil production facility

Farm Subsidiary Payments - Tribal Farm - U.S. D.Ct. Idaho 1996
Settled Favorably
United States confessed error on $200,000 administrative claim against Tribe and paid Tribe $100,000 plus $30,000 attorney fees. Coeur d’Alene Tribe v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, U.S. D.Ct. (1996).

Personal Injury - Tribal Member - Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court
Settled Favorably
Automobile accident personal injury case.  Former county sheriff paid tribal member just under $1 million.  Aripa v. Watson, Coeur d’Alene Tribal Court & Idaho State Court (1995).


Other Significant or Reported Decisions

Tenant’s Rights - Idaho S.Ct. 1998
Court stopped unlawful eviction of client.  Post Falls Trailer Park v. Fredekind, 962 P.2d 1018 (Idaho 1998).

Riparian Water Rights - Idaho State D.Ct. 1986
Settled Favorably
Client received marina encroachment permit previously issued to neighboring lumber mill for log storage. Templin v. State, Louisiana Pacific, Washington Water Power, 1986.

Voter Rights - Legislative Reapportionment - Idaho S.Ct. 1983, 84
Settled Favorably
Court voided Idaho Legislature’s 1982 reapportionment plan, adopted plan proposed by client and awarded client over $100,000 in attorney fees.  Client garnished sales tax collected by Albertsons when State refused to pay attorney fees.  Hellar v. Cenarrusa I, II, III, 664 P.2d 765 (Idaho 1983), 682 P.2d 539 (Idaho 1984), 682 P.2d 524 (Idaho 1984).

Toxic Tort - U.S. D.Ct. Idaho 1984
Settled Favorably
Suit against smelter for lead poisoning of children in Coeur d’Alene Basin.  Settled for $1+ million for each primary client.  Wilson v. Gulf Resources, U.S. D.Ct. Idaho 1984.


Other Reported Decisions

Voters’ Rights  - Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, Inc. v. Cenarrusa, 111 Idaho 502, 725 P.2d 526 (1986) (Amicus) (Won - allowed Initiative to be voted upon prior to determining challenge to constitutionality of proposed statute);

Prison Conditions  - Danny O. v. Bowman, U.S. D.Ct. 1985, (Won - Court rejected at trial incarcerated juveniles’ civil rights claims against state juvenile correctional facility);

Water Rates  - Equal Water Rights Ass’n v. City of Coeur d’Alene, 110 Idaho 247, 715 P.2d 917 (1985) (Lost - adverse appeal date decision, merits not reached);

Employment Termination  - Nelson v. Boundary County, 109 Idaho 205, 706 P.2d 94 (1985) (Id. App.) (Lost - denied claim of improper employment termination);

Criminal  - United States v. Doe, 734 F.2d 406 (1984) (Lost - murder probation revocation);

Creditor - Knoke v. Charlebois, 107 Idaho 427, 690 P.2d 362 (1984) (Won - upheld client’s default judgment);

Unemployment Benefits  - Dilorio v. Potlatch Corp., 107 Idaho 383, 690 P.2d 318 (1984) (Lost - denied unemployment appeal);

Union Rights  - Service Employees Intern. Union, Local 6 v. Idaho Dept. of Health & Welfare, 106 Idaho 756, 683 P.2d 404 (1984) (Lost - upheld state agency employment regulations);

Utility  - Idaho Power v. Idaho Public Utilities Commission, 102 Idaho 744, 639 P.2d 442 (1981) (Lost - PUC could not award attorney fees to consumer group - resulted from PURPA proceedings).

Utility - Idaho State Bar Ass’n v. Idaho Public Utilities Commission, 102 Idaho 672, 637 P.2d 1168 (1981) (Won - allowed officials of consumer groups to appear without attorney in PUC);

Welfare  - Doe v. Klein, 599 F.2d 338 (1979) (Lost - found federal court jurisdiction lacking over state welfare claim);

Unemployment Benefits - White v. Idaho Forest Industries, 98 Idaho 784, 572 P.2d 887 (1977) (Won - upheld employment claim and awarded attorney fees to public service legal firm);

Welfare - Tappen v. Idaho Dept. of Health & Welfare, 98 Idaho 576, 570 P.2d 28 (1977) (Won - upheld claim for state welfare benefits);

Access to Courts - Graves v. Cogswell, 522 P.2d 224 (Idaho 1976) (Won - Court ordered District Court to waive filing fees for indigent litigant).


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