Appeals Court Reverses Ruling Concerning Carter Hotel

By KBJR News 1

April 15, 2013 Updated Apr 15, 2013 at 7:48 PM CDT

(NNCNOW.com)-- The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a ruling, made in St. Louis County District Court, dismissing litigation relating to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa's attempt to put the Carter Hotel in trust.

The Court of Appeals decision will allow state-court jurisdiction for a legal dispute between the city of Duluth, and the Fond du Lac Band. The ruling also states that the band's application is far enough in the application process, or "ripe enough" for a state-court judge to rule.

Last year, Judge Mark Munger ruled that state court doesn't have the jurisdiction to settle the dispute between the city and the band. Munger also stated the band's trust application to make the land under the Carter Hotel Indian land is not far enough along in the application process for any legal action.

Monday's Court of Appeals ruling reverses Muger's decision.

"This case is ripe. It's ready for the court to decide because if we let this process get too far down the line," said Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson. "Once it's into trust, it's never getting out of trust."

Tribal Chairwoman Karen Diver isn't worried about this latest move by the appeals court, saying her confidence is in her legal team.

"The Band remains ever hopeful that we are able to develop that property in the same manner as any other business is allowed to develop in bringing more employment to Duluth," said Diver.

The band filed the formal application to place the Carter Hotel into trust land in 2011. This action would allow the band to regulate to Carter Hotel property; the federal government would hold the title to the land.

City attorneys brought a breach-of-contract claim after they became aware of the band's trust application.

Zach Vavricka

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