Developers lose lawsuit over failed Kialegee Tribal Town casino

Artist's rendering of what was to be the Red Clay Casino on an Indian allotment in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Image from Kialegee Tribal Town

A lawsuit filed by the developers of a failed tribal casino in Oklahoma was dismissed last week.

The developers filed a complaint against attorney Dennis J. Whittlesey and his firm, Dickinson Wright, alleging malpractice. At issue was the legality of a casino proposed by the Kialegee Tribal Town.

The developers claimed they were misled by Whittlesey because a federal judge issued an injunction that prevented the Red Clay Casino from moving forward. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals eventually lifted the injunction and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to rule on the matter.

Since the developers essentially prevailed, they can't sue Whittlesey or his firm for malpractice, Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled. The decision was issued November 12.

"Although the district court initially ruled in favor of the state and imposed a preliminary injunction, the Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded with instructions to vacate the preliminary injunction and to dismiss the complaint. A ruling which became final when the United States Supreme Court denied the state of Oklahoma a writ of certiorari," Coleman wrote in the seven-page ruling. "Thus, plaintiffs cannot state a claim for legal malpractice stemming from the Oklahoma action because they prevailed."

The tribe has since dropped plans for the casino, which was to be located on an Indian allotment in Broken Arrow, a suburb of Tulsa. A new location was in the works but hasn't been announced.

Get the Story:
Malpractice action dismissed vs Dickinson Wright over alleged bad advice on proposed Oklahoma Indian casino (The Cook County Record‎ 11/18)

10th Circuit Decision:
Oklahoma v. Hobia (December 22, 2014)

NIGC Indian Land Opinions:
May 25, 2012 | June 8, 2012

Supreme Court Decision:
Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community (May 27, 2014)

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