Duluth and Fond du Lac Tribe dispute decided by the Federal Courts

By KBJR News 1

Credit: MGN Online

Duluth and Fond du Lac Tribe dispute decided by the Federal Courts

March 12, 2014 Updated Mar 12, 2014 at 12:59 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that a dispute between Duluth and the Fond du Lac Tribe over the Carter Hotel on First Street, just above the Fond Duluth Casino on Superior Street, must be decided by the Federal Courts.

The band bought the vacant Carter Hotel in 2010 and applied to the U.S. Department of Interior to designate it as Indian Land.
Fond du Lac Tribal Chair, Karen Diver, said she wants to expand the Fond du Luth Casino.

Duluth sued in St. Louis County District Court saying under a 1986 agreement the band had to gain city permission before expanding on to land other than that on which the casino sits. The District Court ruled that decision could only be made in Federal Court.

The city appealed and the State Court of Appeals overturned the District Court decision. But this week the Supreme Court ruled that it agrees with the District Court saying it's a decision that must be made by the Federal Court.

"The Band is immune to suit in state court, unless it waives its sovereign immunity...The Band did not waive its immunity to suit in state court in the 1994 Agreements, which modify the 1986 Agreements."

The city has had an on–going dispute with the band over shared casino profits since the tribe stopped paying in 2009.
Last year a Federal judge ordered the band to pay Duluth almost $1.5 million in "back rent" owed.

But the court also ruled that the band did not have to make any further payments through the rest of its long–term contract with the city which runs until 2036.

Barbara Reyelts