Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bank of Oklahoma v. Muscogee (Creek) Nation case brief

  1. Bank of Oklahoma v. Muscogee (Creek) Nation case brief
b.      Suits against Indian tribes are barred by sovereign immunity absent either clear waiver by tribe or congressional abrogation
c.       Sovereign immunity and doctrine of comity precluded bank from filing interpleader action in federal district court against Indian tribe to determine ownership of account funds; bank had to exhaust tribal remedies before bringing controversy to federal court.
d.      Bank failed to establish that it would be denied due process if conflicting claims to funds by Indian tribe and manager of tribe's bingo hall would not be determined in federal court interpleader action, but rather would have to be pursued in tribal court.
f.       For reasons of comity, federal court should abstain from hearing cases that challenge tribal court jurisdiction until tribal court remedies, including tribal appellate review, are exhausted.
g.      Exception to tribal court exhaustion requirement when there is express jurisdictional prohibition was inapplicable with respect to bank's interpleader action against Indian tribe and manager of tribe's bingo hall, where bank merely speculated that tribal court's temporary restraining order prohibiting bank from releasing funds to manager was beyond tribal court jurisdiction and did not point to any express jurisdictional prohibition which temporary restraining order patently violated.
h.      “Absolute necessity” exception to Indian tribe's sovereign immunity does not apply where party voluntarily chooses not to pursue its case in tribal court.
i.        Contract between Indian tribe and manager of tribe's bingo hall did not unequivocally express waiver of tribe's sovereign immunity from suit in nontribal court; agreement provided that court action brought by either party shall be brought in tribal court, and later provided that tribe agreed to be subject to suit by manager to declare rights and duties under agreement.

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