Turtle Talk: Watch tribal court jurisdiction case
"The Eighth Circuit will be hearing Amerind v. Malaterre shortly. The appellant’s brief is here (amerind-appellant-brief). Our previous posting, with the district court materials and opinion, and the Turtle Mountain appellate court opinion is here. [Disclosure--I was a sitting appellate judge for the tribal court, but I did not participate in this matter.]

This case is a case to watch because it is a candidate for Supreme Court review under Montana v. United States. Maybe not a great candidate, but anything’s possible in the Roberts Court when it comes to tribal court jurisdiction over nonmembers.

Amerind is an insurance company chartered under federal law (according to my understanding, which could be wrong) that insures tribal housing. This case involves a fire at Turtle Mountain. Plaintiffs sued the Turtle Mountain Housing Authority, which was insured by Amerind. During the tribal court proceedings, the housing authority dropped out as a defendant, leaving Amerind as the insurance company and sole defendant. I suspect there is much confusion on the question of whether an insurance company can be a named defendant as a replacement for the real defendant (or alleged tortfeasor), since it is usually the insurance company that handles the defense and even hires the lawyers. Amerind, like any insurance company, is looking for an out."

Get the Story:
Case to Watch — Amerind v. Malaterre (Turtle Talk 3/19)