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Blackfeet housing authority seeks rehearing of case

The Blackfeet Nation's housing authority is seeking a rehearing of a case that could open up tribes nationwide to lawsuits.

The housing authority is being held liable for moldy homes. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the tribe waived its sovereign immunity through a "sue and be sued" ordinance.

The decision has tribal housing leaders and lawyers worried about the impact throughout Indian Country. "I would say the vast majority of housing authorities have that law on their books," Richard Guest, a staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund in Washington, told the Associated Press.

The Blackfeet plaintiffs also sued the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But the court said it couldn't find any law that put the federal government on the hook.

"HUD has a huge responsibility here and should have stood up with and for the tribe," said Susan Hammer, the executive director of Ute Indian Tribal Housing Authority in Utah and a board member of the National American Indian Housing Council.

If the petition for a rehearing is denied, the Blackfeet housing authority will probably appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Get the Story:
Blackfeet mold lawsuit gains ground (AP 8/29)

Court Decision:
Marceau v. Blackfeet Housing Authority (July 21, 2006)

Related Stories:
Blackfeet homeowners to discuss mold case (07/28)
Court opens Blackfeet housing authority to lawsuit (7/24)
Reservation homes threatened by dangerous mold (05/16)
Navajo Nation homes contaminated with mold (03/02)
Reservation homes plagued by mold problems (12/03)
Judge dismisses suit over bad homes at Blackfeet (01/23)