Supreme Court refuses to take up Amerind immunity dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined a petition in Malaterre v. Amerind Risk Management, a sovereign immunity case.

Amerind Risk Management Corporation was chartered by three tribes and provides insurance to other tribes and tribal housing authorities. The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a federal corporate charter to Amerind under 25 U.S.C. § 477.

As a result, the corporation enjoys sovereign immunity, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last February. Members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians had filed a wrongful death and personal injury lawsuit against Amerind in tribal court.

"Because Amerind is a § 477 corporation that administers a tribal self-insurance risk pool, we hold that Amerind 'serves as an arm of the [charter tribes] and not as a mere business and is thus entitled to tribal sovereign immunity,'" the 8th Circuit said in its 2-1 decision.

The Turtle Mountain plaintiffs asked the Supreme Court to review the case but the justices declined, without comment, in an order today.

8th Circuit Decision:
Amerind Risk Management Corporation v. Malaterre (February 15, 2011)

Related Stories:
Court backs sovereign immunity of Amerind Risk Management (2/15)

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