indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Violence against Native women is on the rise (10/24)
Morgan Howard: Corporate dividends confict with Tlingit values (10/24)
David Wilkins: Abandon the Doctrine of Discovery in Indian law (10/24)
Navajo Nation candidate Chris Deschene won't halt campaign (10/24)
Tribes receive $1.2M in Sovereignty in Indian Education funds (10/24)
Language preservation a top issue as AFN opens annual meet (10/24)
Rep. Don Young to speak to Alaska Natives amid controversy (10/24)
Think Progress: South Dakota county suppresses Native vote (10/24)
Opinion: Tribes turn their acumen to Internet lending industry (10/24)
Chickasaw Nation signs compact with state for license plates (10/24)
Federal judge won't be removed from Miccosukee Tribe's case (10/24)
Radio: NPS allowed destruction of tribal burial mounds in Iowa (10/24)
BIA announces intent to put Cowlitz Tribe gaming site in trust (10/24)
Feinstein opposes North Fork Rancheria off-reservation casino (10/24)
Salt River Tribe arrests man who left children in casino garage (10/24)
Closure of Chukchansi Tribe's casino could affect contributions (10/24)
Opinion: Shinnecock Nation's casino plans remain under cloud (10/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe heads to election season (10/23)
Al Caroll: Recognize tribal sovereignty in new US Constitution (10/23)
Michael Baines: Senate candidate battles Alaska Native rights (10/23)
President Barack Obama urges early voting for Alaska Natives (10/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation woman named president of Girl Scouts board (10/23)
3rd Circuit won't force town to repatriate Jim Thorpe's remains (10/23)
Navajo Nation's top court orders new ballots without candidate (10/23)
Alaska Federation of Natives ready to open annual convention (10/23)
Alaska governor to sign Native languages bill six months later (10/23)
Rep. Don Young blames government 'largesse' for suicide rate (10/23)
Washington player says tattoo represents Cherokee heritage (10/23)
Crow Tribe seeks renewal of Indian Coal Production Tax Credit (10/23)
Native advocates come together to combat domestic violence (10/23)
Agua Caliente Band and DOJ submit briefs in water rights case (10/23)
Former health executive from Chippewa Cree Tribe sentenced (10/23)
Final person sentenced in theft from Blackfeet Nation program (10/23)
Opinion: Tribes exploit loopholes in America's political system (10/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe announces plans for new gaming facility (10/23)
Rival leaders of Chukchansi Tribe to meet amid casino closure (10/23)
Navajo Nation challenges lawsuit over death of casino patron (10/23)
Law Article: Judge restricts BIA authority in Class III dispute (10/23)
Column: Election won't end North Fork off-reservation casino (10/23)
Eyapaha Today: Oneida singer follows in mother's footsteps (10/22)
Native Sun News: Candidate seeks investigation into program (10/22)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Lakota people disrespect our language (10/22)
Cedric Sunray: Standing together to fight tribal disenrollment (10/22)
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.