indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

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
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
S.E. Ruckman: Tribal members share frustrations on IHS care (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Fort Belknap Tribes depend on revenue from Internet lending (7/24)
Oglala Sioux Tribe still working on plan for legal alcohol sales (7/24)
Two Native girls charged with assault for hockey game brawl (7/24)
Chickasaw Nation welcomes public to new community center (7/24)
Oregon tribe plans major development at historic village site (7/24)
Unsettled Ch. 26: Passamaquoddy dealings cloaked in secrecy (7/24)
KCAW: BLM supports Alaska Native corporation in land dispute (7/24)
Mixed martial arts fighter from Lumbee Tribe proud of heritage (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Opinion: Chief Black Hawk was notorious leader of Ute people (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
Fighter seriously injured at Trinidad Rancheria's casino event (7/24)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe concerned about potential gaming site (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
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.