Dollar General Corp. v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Indian Law
  • Date Filed: June 23, 2016
  • Case #: 13-1496
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Per Curiam
  • Full Text Opinion

Tribal Courts have jurisdiction over non-Indians who enter into a consensual relationship with the tribe through commercial dealing, contracts, leases or other arrangements.

In January 2005, John Doe, a thirteen-year-old Choctaw tribe member, alleged that Petitioner’s employee sexually molested him, while he was working at the Dollar General Store, a subsidiary of Petitioner. Doe sued the employee, and Petitioner, in Tribal Court. Petitioner filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the Tribal Court denied the motion. The Choctaw Supreme Court, upon petition from both parties, upheld the lower court’s findings under the Montana analysis. In 2008 Petitioner filed an action in the federal district court alleging that the tribal court lacked subject matter jurisdiction in John Doe’s lawsuit. The district court refused to provide Petitioner relief and the Fifth Circuit affirmed after applying the Montana analysis. In Montana, the Supreme Court held that although tribes generally lack jurisdiction over non-Indians within their reservation, the Montana exception allows jurisdiction over non-Indians who enter into a consensual relationship with the tribe, “through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements.” The Supreme Court was equally divided, thus the Fifth Circuit’s holding that the Tribal Court had jurisdiction over Petitioner was upheld. AFFIRMED.

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