indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Peabody loses another round in Navajo coal lease fight
Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The world's largest coal company lost another round to the Navajo Nation on Tuesday when a federal appeals court tossed its lawsuit against the tribe.

Peabody Coal has battled the tribe for more than a decade over a controversial coal mining lease approved during the Reagan administration. The agreement, whose royalty rate is in dispute, has spawned several lawsuits, including one that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the latest suit, Peabody sought to enforce a settlement reached through an arbitration clause in the lease. The settlement left intact the lower-paying royalty rate that tribal leaders say is unfair.

But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Peabody lacked standing to bring the case. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel said the company has not raised a "federal question" requiring resolution in the federal courts.

The problem, Judge Richard C. Tallman observed in the 14-page ruling, was that the settlement was not approved by the federal government. In contrast, both parties agreed that any arbitration award would not require involvement by the Interior Department.

The clause came back to bite the company more than 10 years later. "Peabody seeks enforcement of the arbitration royalty award, not the lease," Tallman wrote, "[y]et the final arbitration award for which Peabody seeks enforcement was not federally approved."

The decision is the latest in a series of setbacks Peabody has suffered in the courts. More than once, the company has been criticized for legal tactics seen as attempts to avoid liability for its role in the controversy.

Last year, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed another lawsuit Peabody filed to force the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe into arbitration. During oral arguments, the judges chastised the company's lawyer for trying to "double-talk" them.

The Navajo Nation accuses Peabody of conspiring with government officials to deny the tribe a 20 percent royalty rate on its coal deposit in northeastern Arizona. After a Peabody lobbyist met with then-Interior secretary Donald P. Hodel in June 1985, a Bureau of Indian Affairs decision in favor of the high rate was suppressed and the tribe was led back into negotiations.

The lobbyist, Stanley Hulett, happened to be a personal friend of Hodel. Unaware of the meeting, the tribe -- facing severe economic distress financial pressure -- accepted a royalty rate of 12.5 percent.

The tribe responded with a breach of trust claim against the federal government. Through the course of this litigation, the secret meeting come to light -- only because Peabody made public its internal memos outlining the lobbying.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the laws the tribe cited were not enough to hold the U.S. liable. But a federal appeals court has kept the suit alive. The tribe claims damages of $600 million, the amount it would have received under the 20 percent royalty rate.

Separately, the tribe filed a case against Peabody under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Under the law, the tribe could be awarded up to three times the amount lost in the coal lease.

The RICO case is moving forward in a federal court in Washington, D.C. The judge handling the case once threatened to hold the company in contempt for filing "frivolous" motions seen as mere delay tactics.

Get the Decision:
Peabody v. Navajo Nation (June 15, 2004)

Relevant Links:
Navajo Nation - http://www.navajo.org
Hopi Tribe - http://www.hopi.nsn.us
Peabody Energy - http://www.peabodyenergy.com

Related Stories:
Tribes seek conditional permit for generation station (6/15)
Grassroots battle against Peabody sees success (06/07)
Judge won't dismiss Navajo Nation suit against Peabody (04/27)
Peabody continues top-level access at Interior (03/17)
Court opens window for Navajo Nation trust suit (10/27)
Peabody seeks to dismiss Navajo Nation claim (06/18)
Court appears ready to toss Peabody appeal (04/15)
Supreme Court's trust rulings criticized (4/14)
Navajo Nation back in court over Peabody lease (4/8)
Effects of Supreme Court decision debated (03/07)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Swimmer can't recall Navajo involvement (02/13)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)
Navajo 'deception' gets Supreme Court hearing (12/03)
Peabody sides with Bush administration on trust (09/04)
Legal tactics land Peabody in hot seat (7/22)
Navajo royalty case accepted (6/4)
Don Hodel's Navajo Folly (6/4)
Supreme Court accepts Navajo trust case (6/3)
Navajo royalty case up for review (5/30)
Supreme Court considers 'deception' of trust (5/22)
Action due on Navajo trust case (5/20)
Bush wants Navajo ruling reversed (3/27)
Court rules Navajo Nation owed money (8/14)

Copyright 2000-2004 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: County seeks compensation for trust lands (8/24)
Native Sun News: Sage remains a special plant for Native peoples (8/24)
Jim Kent: Republicans in South Dakota whine about Black Elk Peak (8/24)
Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand on Dakota Access (8/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeks prayers ahead of pipeline hearing (8/23)
Second run scheduled to raise awareness of Gold King Mine disaster (8/23)
U.S. Sentencing Commission continues work of tribal advisory group (8/23)
Chemehuevi Tribe wins decision barring county from citing members (8/23)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe joins fight against pipeline (8/23)
Native Sun News: Mario Gonzales moves from ball court to law court (8/23)
Brandon Ecoffey: The Horse Nations prepare for battle over pipeline (8/23)
Steven Newcomb: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenges domination (8/23)
Simon Moya-Smith: Hillary Clinton remains silent amid pipeline feud (8/23)
Sheriff mistook sacred pipes for pipe bombs at pipeline protest site (8/23)
Charles Carlyle: Issues to consider when doing business with tribes (8/23)
Choctaw Nation starts work on expansion of casino by Texas border (8/23)
Judge rules against Miccosukee citizen in gaming per capita dispute (8/23)
Seneca Nation stopped paying $17M a year for casino police service (8/23)
First Nations ratify agreement for seventh casino in Saskatchewan (8/23)
Tribes prepare for critical hearing in Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit (8/22)
Hillary Clinton lands more tribal leader endorsements in New Mexico (8/22)
Donald Trump picks Navajo man for agriculture advisory committee (8/22)
Laguna Pueblo signs deal to acquire commercial casino in Louisiana (8/22)
Mark Trahant: Pipeline fight highlights power of political organizing (8/22)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to stop Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Native Sun News: Black Elk Peak honors sanctity of Black Hills site (8/22)
Vi Waln: Our water system is being threatened by energy pipelines (8/22)
Jeffrey Whalen: Corruption alive and well within Oglala Sioux Tribe (8/22)
Winona LaDuke: Bigger problems ahead for Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Dallas Goldtooth: Tribes shut out of Dakota Access Pipeline process (8/22)
Sen. Martin Heinrich: Return tribal property to their rightful owners (8/22)
Peter d'Errico: 'Friends' continue to embrace negative Indian policy (8/22)
Marc Simmons: Tribes developed own trade and commerce system (8/22)
Native mother reunites with children taken by government in 1960s (8/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.