ST. LOUIS (CN) – An Indian tribe cannot claim sovereign immunity when it makes counterclaims in an arbitration dispute, the 8th Circuit ruled.
C&W Enterprises became locked in a legal dispute with the Oglala Sioux Tribe after the parties disagreed on performance and payment issues on four road projects.
When the matter went to arbitration, the Tribe made counterclaims on one of the four projects. That project was the only one without a waiver of sovereign immunity.
However, Judge Rosenbaum ruled that since the tribe made counterclaims in the arbitration, it gave up its immunity.
“If a tribe were to operate under American Arbitration Association rules, and then after an adverse decision assert sovereign immunity and walk away, it would convert sovereignty from a shield into a sword,” Rosenbaum ruled.