Class action housing lawsuit draws tribal interest

Four tribes have filed briefs in a Montana case that opened up the Blackfeet Nation's housing authority to a class action lawsuit.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Crow Tribe and the Fort Peck Tribe -- all of Montana - and the Navajo Nation are filing briefs in support of the Blackfeet Housing Authority. They say the court's decision to waive BHA's sovereign immunity could hurt tribes nationwide.

The case began when 153 families on the Blackfeet Reservation sued the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the tribe for moldy homes. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying HUD was not liable and that BHA was protected by sovereign immunity.

Last July, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed in part. A three-judge panel agreed HUD wasn't liable but said agreements signed by the BHA constituted a waiver of immunity.

The BHA has asked for a rehearing before the 9th Circuit.

Get the Story:
A legal gathering of tribes (The Missoula Independent 2/16)

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

Related Stories:
Blackfeet housing authority seeks rehearing of case (8/29)
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)