Miccosukee Tribe wins decision in dispute over fees paid to court

The flag of the Miccosukee Tribe. Image from Manataka American Indian Council

The widower of a woman who was killed in drunken driving accident must pay $72,000 to the Miccosukee Tribe, an appeals court in Florida ruled.

Carlos Bermudez won a $4.1 million judgment against two tribal members who were held responsible for the death of his wife in 1998. When the tribal members couldn't pay, he tried to recoup the money from the tribe.

After losing a ruling in a lower court, the tribe posted the judgment and was assessed a registry fee of nearly $72,000. The Third District Court of Appeal, however, reversed and the tribe got its money back after a decision last July.

As the prevailing party, the tribe is entitled to recover its costs. In a new decision, the Third District said that included the registry fee.

"We accordingly hold that the court registry fee qualifies as 'other costs permitted by law'," the court said on January 21.

The tribe was drawn into the dispute because it fronted the legal fees for the two tribal members in the case. The tribe apparently has been taking deductions from their per capita payments to recoup its costs.

Tribal members reportedly receive $164,000 a year.

Get the Story:
Who Gets to Keep Court Registry Fee? Miccosukee Tribe Does in This Case (The Daily Business Review 1/27)

Florida Court of Appeals Decisions:
Miccosukee Tribe v. Bermudez (January 21, 2015)
Miccosukee Tribe v. Bermudez (July 2, 2014)

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