In a long running dispute between the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and the city of Duluth, Minnesota the tribe has scored another victory. On Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the tribe does not owe more than $10 million from its urban casino there.
In 2011 a district court ruled that the band did owe the money after stopping payments in 2009. $75 million had been paid. The National Indian Gaming Commission issued a notice of violation invalidating the casino’s deal with the city in 2011. The 2011 ruling in district court stated that the tribe should pay for the two years that elapsed before the NIGC issued their notice. Friday’s ruling overturns that decision.
Judge Diana E. Murphy wrote the unanimous decision for the appeals court Friday, in part saying that the purpose of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was to ensure that tribes are the “primary beneficiaries” of their casinos.
The litigation may not be over yet however, as a district judge will receive the case again and the city may ask for a re-hearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if they prevail in another case related to the matter.