The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians owns and operates the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville, California. Photo: Red Hawk Casino

'Justice has finally prevailed': Shingle Springs Band vindicated in gaming case

The Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians "feels completely vindicated" after the nation's highest court put an end to a long-running gaming contract dispute this week, Chairwoman Regina Cuellar said.

In a statement to The Sacramento Business Journal, Cuellar said the case should "never should have gone to trial, based on defenses we raised at the outset." The tribe had asserted sovereign immunity, among other issues, in the decade-long drama.

But the courts in California rejected those defenses and it cost the tribe dearly. Although a $30 million judgement has been thrown out, the tribe spent more than $7 million in legal fees and other expenses, The Journal reported.

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the final appeal in the case, the tribe is going to be able to recover those costs, Cuellar said in the statement.

"But justice has finally prevailed, and we are happy to move forward,” the chairwoman said.

At issue were contracts with a company called Sharp Image Gaming. The firm helped the tribe open an ill-fated casino that barely lasted a week in late 1996.

As the tribe was about to open the Red Hawk Casino with a new partner, Sharp Image went to court. In the lawsuit, the firm said it loaned money to the tribe and helped build the shuttered facility in exchange for a share of revenues.

Those types of arrangements are common in management contracts, an appeals court in California later determined. But since the Sharp Image agreements were never approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission, a federal agency, they cannot be enforced, the court said in the ruling

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Sharp Image Gaming, Inc. v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.

Read More on the Story:
Supreme Court passes on Red Hawk case, favoring owners in decade-old suit (The Sacramento Business Journal June 28, 2018)

California Court of Appeal for the Third District Decision:
Sharp Image Gaming, Inc. v. Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians (September 15, 2017)

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