Archive for the ‘American Indian law’ category

Judge Ted Stewart – Motion for Summary Judgment granted in part, denied in part

December 19, 2006

JEWELERS MUTUAL INSURANCE, Plaintiff, vs. MILNE JEWELRY COMPANY and IRVIN W. MILNE, Defendants.

Case No. 2:06-CV-243 TS

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90551

December 14, 2006

Judge Ted Stewart

In an underlying action, Defendants are being sued under the Indian Arts and Crafts Enforcement Acts of 1990 and 2000 (I didn’t realize there were such Acts). 

In the underlying action, it is alleged that Defendants advertised, displayed, and sold crafts and jewelry, through their website, falsely claiming the items to be of Native American origin. Defendants now move for summary judgment on the issue of Plaintiff’s duties to defend and indemnify.  Plaintiff opposes Defendants’ motion and also moves for summary judgement, asserting that the claims in the underlying action do not fall within its policy’s coverage.

Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment was granted on the issue of Plaintiff’s duty to defend in the underlying action but denied as to claims which seek injunctive relief and punitive damages.

Plaintiff’s Cross Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in that Plaintiff has no duty to defend claims in the underlying action which seek injunctive relief or punitive damages. Plaintiff’s Cross Motion was denied as to all other grounds.

Judge Paul G. Cassell – Navajo Nation v. LDS Family Services – Motion to Dismiss Granted

December 18, 2006

NAVAJO NATION, Plaintiff, vs. LDS FAMILY SERVICES, Defendant.

Case No. 2:06cv00909

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF UTAH, CENTRAL DIVISION

2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89913

December 12, 2006

During her pregnancy, Sarah Ashley Ziska contacted LDS Family Services about possibly placing her unborn child for adoption. Ms. Ziska eventually informed Family Services the probable father of her unborn child was of Navajo ancestry. Because no one had registered with the Utah Putative Father Registry with regard to Ms. Ziska’s unborn child, Family Services proceeded with the adoption process.

On February 14, 2005, Ms. Ziska gave birth to a baby girl. On February 25, 2005, Ms. Ziska voluntarily relinquished her parental rights to the child in front of a Utah state court judge. The Utah state courts have continued to preside over the adoption proceedings.  

In this case, the Navajo Nation challenges the adoption procedures used by LDS Family Services. Specifically, the Navajo Nation requested the court to determine if the federal Indian Child and Welfare Act applies when a natural Native American father is unable to establish his paternity under state law, and if it creates a private right of action for the Navajo Nation.

The Court ruled that the Navajo Nation did not demonstrate the state court proceeding provided an inadequate forum to hear the claims raised in its petition. The court, therefore, held that it is necessary to abstain from this matter.

LDS Family Services’ Motion to Dismiss granted.