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Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior

March 19, 2009

RED LAKE BAND OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians ("Plaintiff" or the "Tribe") filed the instant lawsuit against Defendants, the United States Department of Interior ("Department") and Ken Salazar in his official capacity as Secretary of the Department*fn1 ("Secretary," collectively with the Department, "Defendants"), alleging that Defendants breached provisions of the parties' Compact of Self-Governance and accompanying agreements entered into pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, 25 U.S.C. § 450, et seq. ("ISDEAA" or the "Act"). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to obtain, assist Plaintiff in obtaining, and/or request funding for the Tribe's new juvenile correction facility in breach of the parties' agreement. In addition, Plaintiff claims that Defendants failed to notify the Tribe of the availability of year-end funding in breach of the parties' agreement. Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants failed to timely provide Plaintiff with certain "pay cost" analyses and also failed to provide the Tribe with the full amount of pay cost increases as required under the terms of the parties' contract.

Currently pending before the Court are Plaintiff's [16] Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts I and III and for Partial Summary Judgment as to Count II and Defendants' [17] Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment as to Counts I - IV. After thoroughly reviewing all of the parties' submissions, including the attachments thereto, applicable case law, statutory authority, and the record of the case as a whole, the Court shall GRANT-IN-PART and DENY-IN-PART Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and shall GRANT-IN-PART and DENY-IN-PART Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Specifically, the Court shall GRANT Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count III, but shall DENY Plaintiff's Motion for Summary as to Counts I and II, and shall GRANT Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment as to Count II, but shall DENY Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment as to Counts I, III, and IV, for the reasons that follow.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The ISDEAA

The purpose of the ISDEAA, 25 U.S.C. § 450 et seq., is to "assure maximum participation by Indian tribes in the planning and administration of federal services, programs and activities for Indian communities." S. Rep. No. 100-274 at 1 (1988), reprinted at 1988 U.S.C.C.A.N 2620, 2620. Accordingly, the ISDEAA authorizes federal agencies, such as the Department, to enter into contracts with Indian tribes in which the tribes promise to supply federally funded services, for example tribal law enforcement services, that a federal agency would otherwise provide. Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma v. Leavitt, 543 U.S. 631, 634 (2005).

"More specifically, under the [IDSEAA], the [Secretary] continue[s] to provide direct services to a tribe until such time as the tribe chooses to enter into a 'self-determination contract' to operate those services. At that point, the [Secretary] [is] required to transfer resources and control of those programs to the tribe." Ramah Navajo Chapter v. Lujan, 112 F.3d 1455, 1456 (10th Cir. 1997). The Act is thus intended, in part, to also "remov[e] the financial burden incurred by tribes and tribal organizations when implementing federal programs under self-determination contracts." Id. at 1367.

B. The Parties and their Contract

Plaintiff is a federally recognized Indian tribe. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 1.*fn2 Secretary Salazar has overall responsibility for administering the Department as well as overseeing its constituent agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") and managing certain Indian affairs and appropriations. Id. ¶ 2. The Office of Self-Governance ("OSG") is the office within the Department responsible for administering the Secretary's tribal self-governance program, including BIA programs. Id. ¶ 3.

On or about January 14, 1997, Plaintiff and the Department entered into a Compact of Self-Governance ("Compact") pursuant to the ISDEAA. Id. ¶ 5; Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 1. The Compact enabled the Tribe to "plan, conduct, and administer programs and services to the extent as provided in the annual funding agreement." Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 1. This goal is reflected in the text of the Compact itself, which provides that the Compact is intended to:

[C]arry out Self-Governance as authorized by [the ISDEAA], which... transfers control to tribal governments, upon tribal request, over funding and decision making of Federal programs, services, functions and activities as an effective way to implement the federal policy of government-to-government relations with Indian tribes.

Pl.'s Mot., Ex. A (Compact), Art. I § 2(a).

In addition, as is relevant here, the Compact includes a provision, entitled "funding amount," which provides that:

Subject only to the appropriation of funds by the Congress of the United States..., the Secretary or an authorized representative shall provide to the Tribe the total amount specified in the Annual Agreement incorporated by reference....

Id.

On or about November 15, 2004, pursuant to the Compact, Plaintiff and Defendants entered into a Multi-Year Funding Agreement ("Agreement") for 2005-2010. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 10. The Agreement is amended annually by the parties pursuant to a "reprogramming request," and provides that "[t]he Tribe assumes all operational responsibility for all programs, functions, services, and activities as reflected in the REPROGRAMMING REQUEST...." Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 10-11; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 10-11; Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request). At issue are the parties' 2005 and 2006 reprogramming requests, which are discussed below.

1. 2005 Reprogramming Request

Count I of Plaintiff's Complaint involves the reprogramming request for the year 2005, entitled the 2005 Annual Funding Agreement - Reprogramming Request ("2005 Reprogramming Request"), which is attached to the Agreement. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Mot. Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request); see also Compl. ¶¶ 48-52. Subject to the terms of the Compact and Agreement, the 2005 Reprogramming Request generally sets forth the funds to be provided in 2005 by the United States to the Tribe for the provision of the agreed upon services. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 10; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 10; Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request). Specifically, the 2005 Reprogramming Request sets forth by line item and program title the parties' agreement as to the funds to be provided. See Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 14; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 14; see also Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request).

The heart of Plaintiff's claims as to the 2005 Reprogramming Request is line item no. 177 of the 2005 Reprogramming Request, see Compl. ¶¶ 48-52, which provides as follows:

Line Program Title Cost Info OSG OSG OSG BIA Total FN # Code (Tribal Cum. Shortfall Shortfall Reprogram AFA Share) Base Base Request Request 177 Law 37700 0 0 5,283 0 4,576,753 4,582,036 25

Enforcement -NON TPA

Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request), at 10. As indicated in the last column, line item no. 177 also contains a footnote, specifically footnote no. 25, which in turn provides, inter alia, that:

The BIA agrees to assist the Tribe in obtaining $1,218,482 for operations funding for the Tribes [sic] juvenile correction facility*fn3 in CY 2005, and to request this amount in the next Presidents [sic] budget.

Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 16; Pl.'s Mot., Ex. B (Agreement and 2005 Reprogramming Request), at 14. According to Plaintiff, line item no. 177, together with footnote 25, obligated Defendants to do two things: (1) to obtain $1,218,482 in funding for the Tribe's juvenile correction center in calendar year ("CY") 2005, or, in the alternative, to assist the Tribe in obtaining such funding; and (2) to request this same amount of funding in the next President's budget. Pl.'s Compl. ¶¶ 48-52.

As to Plaintiff's first allegation, it is undisputed that the Tribe did not receive $1,218,482 in CY 2005 operations funding for the juvenile correction center. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 17. Moreover, BIA officials testified that BIA did not provide any assistance to the Tribe in obtaining the specified funding. Specifically, the head of BIA's Office of Justice Services, Christopher Chaney, testified that BIA did not provide any assistance to the Tribe in obtaining staffing and program operations funding for the juvenile correction facility in CY 2005. Id. ¶ 18. In addition, Patrick Ragsdale, the Director of BIA, testified that he was not aware of any efforts by BIA to obtain staffing and program operations funding in CY 2005 for the facility in question. Id. ¶ 19. Finally, Kenneth Feinfeld, the Acting Director of the OSG and the person who executed the 2005 Reprogramming Request on behalf of the United States, testified that he personally did not make any efforts to obtain staffing and program operations funding for the Tribe's juvenile correction facility in CY 2005. Id. ¶ 20. Defendants do not dispute this, see Defs.' Resp. ¶¶ 18-20, nor have Defendants offered any evidence to the contrary, see generally Defs.' Stmt.

As concerns the second allegation, there appears to be some dispute as to whether the language stating that BIA "request this amount in the next Presidents [sic] budget" refers to the President's budget for fiscal year ("FY") 2006 or FY 2007. See Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 21 (stating that, as the 2005 Reprogramming Request was negotiated and executed in the fall of 2004, the next President's budget was for FY 2006); Defs.' Stmt. ¶ 21 (denying Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 21 and suggesting that the Agreement was not effective until after the budget had been finalized for FY 2006). Nonetheless, it is undisputed that Defendants did not include a request for $1,218,482 for the Tribe's juvenile correction facility in the President's budget for either FY 2006 or FY 2007.

Pl.'s Stmt. ¶¶ 22-23.

In addition, Plaintiff has proffered undisputed evidence concerning the Department's budget for BIA Public Safety and Justice law enforcement programs-i.e., the likely source of any potential funding for the juvenile correction facility- during the years in question. As Plaintiff emphasizes, Chaney, the head of BIA's Office of Justice Services, testified at deposition that the Department had experienced "significant funding increases for Indian country correction facilities for staffing and operation" in FY 2005 and FY 2006. Pl.' Stmt. ¶ 32; Defs.' Resp. ¶ 32; Pl.'s Mot., Ex. E (Chaney Dep.) at 47:4-15, 48:12-17. More specifically, the parties agree that:

* In FY 2005, Congress appropriated $180,063,000 for BIA's Public Safety and Justice law enforcement and correction facilities, which equaled an increase of $7,568,000 over what was appropriated for the same purposes in FY 2004. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 33.

* In FY 2006, the President's budget requested $192,265,000 for BIA Public Safety and Justice law enforcement programs, including funding for the operation of correction services, programs, and facilities. Id. ¶ 34. Congress subsequently increased this funding request by an additional $1.1 million, appropriating a total of $193,377,000, an increase of $13,314,000 over what was appropriated for the same purposes in FY 2005. Id. ¶ 35.

* In FY 2007, the Department requested a lump sum of $201,620,000 in the President's budget for BIA Public Safety and Justice law enforcement programs, including funding for operation of correction services, programs, and facilities. Id. ¶ 36. Congress again increased the funding over and above the requested amount, appropriating a total of $204,454,00, an increase of $11,077,00 over what was appropriated for the same purposes in FY 2006. Id. ¶ 37.

2. 2006 Reprogramming Request

In January of 2006, the Tribe and Defendants completed bilateral negotiations on a Fourth Amendment to the Multi-Year Funding Agreement for 2005-2010 ("Fourth Amendment") and an associated "Self Governance 2006 Annual Funding Agreement - Reprogramming Request" ("2006 Reprogramming Request"). Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 24; see also Pl.'s Mot., Ex. l (Fourth Amendment and attached 2006 Reprogramming Request). Counts II through IV of Plaintiff's Complaint focus on the Fourth Amendment and the 2006 Reprogramming Request.

i. Year-End Funding

Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint centers on section 17 of the Agreement and the Fourth Amendment, which both contain the following identical language:

Additional Funds - If the Midwest Region Office of the BIA receives notice of the availability of any additional funding in any fiscal year for any purpose, including any unspent funds, that the Tribe is eligible to apply for or receive, then it must notify the Tribe as soon as possible about such funds so that the Tribe may access or apply for those funds. The Midwest Region Office commits to keeping the Tribe informed of the existence of funding immediately upon learning of its existence.

Pl.'s Stmt. ΒΆ 41; see also Pl.'s Mot, Ex. B (Agreement) at 4 (emphasis in original); id., Ex. L (Fourth Amendment) at 4 (emphasis in original). Plaintiff also directs the Court to Article IV, Section IV of the Compact, which states that "[t]he Tribe shall be eligible for new programs, activities, services and functions on the same basis as other tribes and the Secretary or his authorized representative shall advise the Tribe ...


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