Home > News > More Headlines > Court appears ready to toss Peabody appeal
Printer friendly version
Court appears ready to toss Peabody appeal
TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2003

A skeptical federal appeals court on Monday accused a lawyer for the world's largest coal company of "double-talk" for seeking to delay the Navajo Nation's billion-dollar racketeering lawsuit.

During a 30-minute hearing, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals appeared at times exhausted and frustrated with legal arguments advanced by Peabody Energy. The company wants to force the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe into settlement talks for a 1987 mineral development lease the tribes contend is unfair.

"This is a lawsuit about royalty rates," said Peabody attorney Terrance G. Reed. "It is a matter that should be settled under arbitration."

But the judges questioned whether the agreement, which was approved by the Department of Interior during the Reagan administration, allowed the route Peabody is seeking. "It just doesn't get you there," observed Judge Harry T. Edwards. "It's a very limited arbitration clause."

Judge A. Raymond Randolph, who participated via telephone, said negotiation would conveniently kick the tribes out of court for a few more years. "The arbitration clause can't be invoked until 2007," he noted.

Judge David S. Tatel pointed out that arbitration won't allow the tribes to collect damages for money already lost. "This is a RICO case," he said, referring to the federal racketeering statute the Navajo Nation has invoked. "That's pretty different from arguing a royalty rate."

Reed was unwilling to concede that the arbitration clause was as limited as the judges characterized it. He also refused to concede that the clause only applies when the parties can't agree on a new royalty rate -- it wouldn't have an impact on the old rate, the judges noted.

The evasiveness prompted Edwards to bark: "Answer the question!" after Randolph asked whether an arbitration proceeding can award RICO damages.

When Reed answered that it would "depend" on the circumstances, Edwards responded: "Oh, come on counsel. It doesn't depend. Don't double-talk us."

Officially, Peabody came to court to seek a stay of the case, which seeks $600 million -- and possibly up to three times the amount -- under federal racketeering laws. A federal judge denied the company's request last June.

The Navajo Nation accuses Peabody of conspiring with government officials to deny the tribe a 20 percent royalty rate on a highly-valuable coal deposit in northeastern Arizona. After a Peabody lobbyist met with then-Interior secretary Donald P. Hodel in June 1985, an internal 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 -- under financial pressure, another federal circuit court said in August 2001 -- accepted a royalty rate of 12.5 percent.

During the hearing yesterday, Samuel Buffone, an attorney for the Navajo Nation, had little to argue, given the court's treatment of Peabody. "None of our claims are subject to arbitration," he said.

Tim McDonald, an attorney for the Hopi Tribe, which has intervened in the case, didn't have much to say either. A lease the Hopi Tribe signed with Peabody doesn't even have an arbitration clause, he told the court.

The case is Navajo Nation v. Peabody, No. 02-7083.

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

Related Stories:
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 © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Long wait hints at tie in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (5/23)
Another Indian Health Service facility in Great Plains threatened (5/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules hearing on wildfires (5/23)
Supreme Court delays review of Seneca Nation land case again (5/23)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge school hosts meth awareness day (5/23)
Lakota Country Times: Native men still missing after two weeks (5/23)
Tim Giago: Some good old days really were the 'good old days' (5/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Jay Silverheels was more than 'Tonto' (5/23)
Delphine Red Shirt: It's our duty to teach the Lakota language (5/23)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A vendetta in the death of Anna Mae (5/23)
Native Sun News: Rapid City group aims to address disparities (5/23)
Tara Houska: Mascots hurt Native youth despite results of poll (5/23)
Vincent Schilling: Mascot poll doesn't reflect true Indian voices (5/23)
Wenona Wolf: Native people are invisible in our own homeland (5/23)
Roger Birdbear: Obamacare can help address shortfalls at IHS (5/23)
Harold Monteau: Lessons from Canada in Native law and policy (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Church edicts lead to centuries of domination (5/23)
Robert Jumper: Gaming leads Eastern Cherokees to bright future (5/23)
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Hold tribal leaders accountable for schools (5/23)
Benjamin Madley: Acknowledge the genocide of California tribes (5/23)
Jasmine Heiss: Leonard Peltier's fate lies with President Obama (5/23)
Santa Fe Indian School preparing for First Lady Michelle Obama (5/23)
All charges dropped for murder of Cheyenne man in New Mexico (5/23)
Donald Trump claims 'Jack Abrahamoff scandal' proves him right (5/23)
Kickapoo Tribe added to lawsuit over deadly casino bus accident (5/23)
Settlement opens door to tribal casino at popular Oklahoma lake (5/23)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth learn about martial arts (5/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe halts referendum on alcohol (5/20)
Clara Caufield: Off to a new adventure in the Montana mountains (5/20)
Washington Post conducts poll on Native views of racist mascot (5/20)
Warm Springs Tribes see marijuana as means to boost economy (5/20)
Miccosukee Tribe agrees to $4M settlement with former law firm (5/20)
Osage Nation signs compact to address adult protective services (5/20)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes prepare for $21M casino (5/20)
Former Seneca Nation gaming official jets around world after plea (5/20)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe welcomes back former casino workers (5/20)
Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation still interested in developing casino (5/20)
Tribes blast new Department of Labor rule affecting overtime pay (5/19)
Supreme Court still holding onto decision in tribal jurisdiction case (5/19)
Youth share spotlight on Capitol Hill as panel takes up Native bills (5/19)
Bureau of Indian Affairs finalizes tweak to land-into-trust process (5/19)
Native Sun News: Bernie Sanders stages rallies in Lakota country (5/19)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud Sioux man earns doctoral degree (5/19)
Cronkite News: Tribes support efforts to expand criminal authority (5/19)
Native Sun News: Native tattoo shop celebrates first anniversary (5/19)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Tribes maintain long tradition with lacrosse (5/19)
Harris and Goodhope: Bernie Sanders shares our cultural values (5/19)
Steve Russell: Unpopular politicians represent splintered parties (5/19)
Sandia Pueblo welcomes media to GOP convention in New Mexico (5/19)
Montana establishes 13 satellite voting offices in Indian Country (5/19)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe learns about diabetes treatments in Cuba (5/19)
Morongo Band to explore business opportunities with South Korea (5/19)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.