Case No. 18-4723-CR: The People of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians v. Beth Edelberg
Read Opinion and Order dated January 18, 2019
Defendant moved to suppress statements made during an investigatory interview between Defendant and a Pokagon Band Detective. A Pokagon Band Detective questioned Defendant about a missing bank bag in a conference room at the Pokagon Band Administration Building. A few weeks after the interview, the People of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians charged Defendant with one count of larceny in a building over $100.00 in violation of PBCrimO § 15 which requires application of MCL § 750.360. Defendant argued that the statements should be suppressed because the questioning violated her Pokagon Band constitutional rights for the following reasons: (1) the statements were obtained without the presence of counsel; (2) the Pokagon Band Detective did not inform Defendant of her rights prior to questioning; and (3) Defendant’s statements were involuntary made to the Detective. The Tribal Court denied Defendant’s Motion concluding that Defendant’s constitutional rights had not been violated. The Court concluded the following: (1) Defendant had no right to counsel at the time of the interview because formal criminal proceedings had not been initiated against Defendant; (2) the Pokagon Band Detective was not required to inform Defendant of her rights prior to questioning because Defendant was not “in custody” before or during the interview; and (3) Defendant’s statements were voluntary because the Pokagon Band Detective did not conduct the interview in a manner that overwhelmed Defendant’s will, rendering her statements involuntary.
Case No.: 15-3089-GA: In the matter of Adult Guardianship
Read Opinion and Order dated January 27, 2015
A petition for an adult guardianship over an Elder was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction because the Elder did not reside on Tribal Trust Land. The Court explained that the basis of the dismissal is that authority of any court’s jurisdiction has three components: (1) subject matter jurisdiction; (2) personal jurisdiction; and (3) territorial jurisdiction. There are exceptions in some matters where the Court’s jurisdiction is not limited by territory, but this is not that kind of case.
Case No.: 09-545-ELE: Donald Sumners v. Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Election Board
Read Opinion and Order dated July 23, 2011
A candidate for Tribal Chairman in the July 11, 2009 Tribal election filed suit challenging the Election Board’s handling of pre-election mailings and absentee ballots. In a four count complaint, Challenger alleged that 1) his candidate statement was altered before being distributed to voters; 2) corrective measures by the Election Board in mailing corrected statements occurred too late; 3) variations in font sizes led to inequitable space distribution of candidate statements; and 4) the security envelope holding absentee ballot contained voter identifying information in violation of Election Code. The Tribal Court dismissed the challenge finding that neither the Election Board’s actions in response to unintentional errors in printing Candidate Statements nor its policies regarding varying font sizes was unreasonable. The Court also found that Challenger failed to prove that he was harmed by the Board’s actions or present any evidence substantiating his claims regarding the security envelopes.
Consolidated Cases: Case No: 04-001-CV and 04-005-CV: David C. Drake v. Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Tribal Council, and Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Housing Authority.
Read Opinion and Order dated December 8, 2004
Case No: 07-150-CV: Robert Soderberg v. Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Council; Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians; Trudy Loeding, Individually; and Tom Wesaw, Jr., Individually.
Read Opinion and Order dated September 23, 2008
Case No: 08-201-CV: H. Timothy Fenderbosch v. Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Council and Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
Read Opinion and Order dated August 13, 2008
Case No: 08-343-CV: Trena Jones v. Pokagon Gaming Authority, a chartered instrumentality of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
Read Opinion and Order dated February 17, 2009
Plaintiff, a patron at the Four Winds Casino Resort, sued Defendants for injuries from Defendants negligently failing to remove ice from the Casino entrance. It was stipulated that the Four Winds Casino Resort and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Gaming enterprise be dismissed. The Court granted the remaining Defendant, Pokagon Gaming Authority’s Motion for Summary Dismissal because Plaintiff failed to comply with the pre-suit notice requirement (Section 9 of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tort Claims Ordinance) because the notice that was provided did not provide the details required by Section 9. Further, the Court ruled the Complaint was not filed within 180 days as required by Section 10 of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tort Claims Ordinance. The Plaintiff’s claim of tolling of the statute of limitations was denied by the Court based on the factual development of the case.
Case No. 10-701-CV: Estate of Rodney Holmes V. Four Winds Casino Resort
Read Opinion and Order dated May 10, 2012
Plaintiff claims damages for wrongful death resulting from the Defendant’s negligence as the possessor of the premises, being the Four Winds Casino Resort. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Disposition finding it provided reasonable aid to an invitee and summoning professional medical assistance within a reasonable time. The Court relied on the rules of practices and substantive law of Michigan pursuant to Sections VII and VIII of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Court Code and Section 11 of the Tort Claims Ordinance.
Case No: 10-971-CV: Gypsy Crakes v. Four Winds Casino Resort.
Read Opinion and Order dated March 22, 2011
Plaintiff sued Defendant for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regarding failure to accommodate and for other reasons. Based on the Civil Rights Ordinance the Court ruled the Defendant enjoyed sovereign immunity, but granted Plaintiff attorney fees which were permitted under the Civil Rights Ordinance.
Case No: 11-1328-CV: Jeanette Borzych v. FOUR WINDS CASINO RESORT, LAKES ENTERTAINMENT, INC., As managers for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, POKAGON BAND OF POTAWATOMI INDIANS, GAMING ENTERPRISE and/or POKAGON GAMING AUTHORITY, A charter Instrumentality of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.
Read Opinion and Order dated February 15, 2012
Plaintiff sued Defendant for injuries suffered as a result of her slip and fall in a puddle of water in the rest room. Defendant moved for Summary Disposition based on the open and obvious doctrine. The Court looked to Michigan law pursuant to the Tribal Court Code and Tort Claims Ordinance. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion based on Lugo v. Ameritech Corp., Inc., 464 Mich. 512, 629 N.W.2d 384 (2001), finding the open and obvious doctrine applied and an average user with ordinary intelligence would have discovered any danger upon casual inspection. The Court found no “special aspects” existed that would take the matter out of the open and obvious doctrine.
Case No. 13-2504-CV: Lois Lucille Dyer v. Four Winds Casino Resort, Pokagon Gaming Enterprise and/or Pokagon Gaming Authority, A charter Instrumentality of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians
Read Opinion and Order dated May 6, 2014
Plaintiff filed a three count complaint alleging negligence, premises liability and failure to investigate and disclose the identity of a person who collided with the Plaintiff at the Four Winds Casino Resort causing injury. The Court granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Disposition pursuant to §10 of the Tort Claims Ordinance ruling a “claim” for an “award” had not been timely filed as defined in §2.D and 2.B of the ordinance. Further, the Court ruled that there was no duty on the possessor of land to protect the interest of a potential tort feasor by the investigation, identification and disclosure of the tort feasor’s name. A subsequent Motion for Reconsideration by Plaintiff was denied because the Court found no palpable error which would result in a different disposition of Defendant’s Motion for Summary Disposition.
Consolidated Cases: Case No's. 14-2709-CV; 14-2710-CV; 14-2711-CV: Marsha Halford v. Four Winds Casino, Christine Guimond, in her official capacity, and Barry Rhodes, in his official capacity.
Read Opinion and Order dated October 23, 2014
Plaintiff, a casino employee, sued Defendants, the Four Winds Casino and employees, for disparate treatment in violation of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Civil Rights Ordinance and interference with a business relationship. The Court granted Defendants' Motion for Summary Disposition and dismissed Plaintiff's Complaint finding Indian Tribes have the same general authority as other governments to create agencies for governmental and commercial purposes. The Court held that the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and its Pokagon Gaming Authority and employees are shielded by sovereign immunity which had not been waived except for declaratory or injunctive relief as provided in Section 3 of its Civil Rights Ordinance. Lastly, the Defendants are not subject to the exclusions from sovereign immunity under 42 USC 2007(a). The Court also found that the Plaintiff did not fall within the Tort Claims Ordinance regarding the tortious interference with a business relationship because there was no claim of negligence in the performance of the Defendants' duty during or within the scope of their employment and is not the result of the property being in a dangerous condition as otherwise required in the ordinance.
Case No: 19-5319-CV: Ahmad Hadi v. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, and its instrumentality Pokagon Band Gaming Commission.
Read Opinion and Order dated September 26, 2019
Petitioner is employed as Director of Licensing and Investigations at Respondent’s Gaming Commission. Petitioner was terminated and brings this action requesting reinstatement by way of an emergency injunction. The Respondent has filed a motion for summary disposition.
The Court found that, Pursuant to Section 7.B. of the Tribal Court Code and section 6 of the Tort Claims Act the Court is governed by the Michigan Court Rules (MCR).
The Court further found, a party seeking a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction must demonstrate that the following elements weigh in its favor:
- It has a likelihood of success on the merit of the claim,
- it will suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted,
- the harm it will suffer outweighs any harm that the opposing part will suffer if the injunction is entered, and
- the injunction is in the public interest.
Because none of the above four elements have been shown neither a temporary restraining order nor a preliminary injunction could be granted. Nor are the requirements under the Michigan Court Rules for injunctive relief met. Therefore, the Petitioner’s Motion for Emergency Injunction was denied, and the Complaint and Amended Complaint were both dismissed for the reasons set out above.
Case No: 19-5342-CV: Charles LaBoy v. Pokagon Band Gaming Commission.
Read Opinion and Order dated September 23, 2019
Petitioner filed a complaint against the Pokagon Band claiming the Band violated the Open Meetings Act and the Ethics Code. Petitioner sought relief from the non-renewal of his employment contract.
The Court held, based on applicable case law and Tribal law:
- The Pokagon Band enjoys sovereign immunity from all forms of suit. (Article XVIII, Sec. 1, Pokagon Constitution);
- the Gaming Commission as a political subdivision of the Tribe possesses all the immunities of the Tribe including sovereign immunity. (Sec. 3.02, Gaming Regulatory Act);
- the Tribal Court Jurisdiction does not extend to any action of the Band or its officials (Gaming Commission) unless explicitly waived. (Sec. 11, Tribal Court Code); and
- there has been no waiver as applied to these Respondent’s in this case.
Case No.: 14-2905-CO: People v. Bradley G. Engle
Respondent was issued a civil infraction citation for disorderly conduction in violation of the Code of Offenses. Prior to trial, Respondent filed briefs requesting a jury trial, challenging enforceability of a subpoena of Respondent, and seeking to compel the People to produce witness information.
Respondent requested a jury trial pursuant to the civil offense charge; PBCivO § 2.A.; PBCrimO § 10(A)(1)(c). The Court held that § 7(E) of the Tribal Court Code and § 4 of the Court Rules for Civil Infractions limits the right to trial by jury to criminal offenses punishable by imprisonment and that such a limitation was not unconstitutional.
Read Opinion and Order dated December 8, 2014
Respondent challenged whether he was required to be personally present for his hearings if represented by an attorney and whether he could be called to testify by the Band. The Court held that the Rules for Civil Infractions § 6.B excuses a respondent’s presence only for the initial appearance and that respondents in civil infraction proceedings are required to attend all other hearings or be subject to default judgment. The Court also held that Art. XVI(d) of the Pokagon Constitution does not apply to civil infraction proceedings and as such a respondent may be called as a witness by the Presenting Officer.
Read Opinion and Order dated January 15, 201
Respondent sought an order to compel the Presenting Officer to provide the birth date and city and states of residence of witnesses. The Court, citing the lack of discovery provisions for civil infractions cases under Tribal law, denied the motion and held that, pursuant to MCR 2.302(A)(3) (made applicable to the Court by § 7(B) of the Tribal Court Code) discovery is not available in civil infraction proceedings.
Read Opinion and Order dated February 2, 2015
Case No. 10-1093-CO: The People of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians v. Mark Joseph Adamski
Case No. 10-1094-CO: The People of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians v. Dani Alfred Simon
Read Opinion and Order dated July 21, 2011
Read Opinion and Order dated September 14, 2011
In these two cases, combined for purposes of decision, the Defendants were issued a civil infraction citation for cheating at blackjack at the Four Winds Casino Resort (violation of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Code of Offenses, Section 14 E claiming the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Code of Offenses, Section 14 A is unconstitutionally vague). As a result of sloppy dealing, one Defendant would secretly signal the value of the dealer’s hold card to the other Defendant which influenced whether the player took another card or not. The Court ruled the Defendants were clearly on notice their conduct was cheating because it altered the element of chance, method of selection or criteria which determined the result of the game.