ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Community Calendar

Community Artists Program
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

Music with Mr. Mike
10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Charlestown

Wild About Reading
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Charlestown

Preschool Story Hour
11 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. Carolina

Preschool Story Hour
1 p.m. - 1:45 p.m. Carolina

Mah Jongg
1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

RI Blood Drive
3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Carolina

Calabrese Auxilary Meeting
7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly

Hopkinton Republican Town Committee Meeting
7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Hopkinton

Stability Ball Fitness Class
7 p.m. - 8 p.m. Westerly

... View all of today's events


Stay Connected


ADVERTISEMENT


Judge orders lawsuit heard in tribal court


PROVIDENCE — A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the Narragansett Indian tribe seeking $1.1 million in legal fees has been remanded to tribal court by Judge William E. Smith.

The lawsuit, filed by Massachusetts lawyer Douglas J. Luckerman in March, accused the tribe of failing to pay for work on issues related to a federal case stemming from a July 2003 State Police raid on the tribe’s now defunct smoke shop in Charlestown. Luckerman is seeking unpaid legal fees, interest and court costs.

Documents show the tribe made some payments to Luckerman, but he said those were not sufficient to meet its obligations under 2003 and 2007 agreements.

At the heart of the suit is the question of whether the tribe retains the power to compel a nonmember to submit to the civil jurisdiction of a tribal court. The issue of what might constitute a tribal court was not addressed in the judge’s decision, but in many cases the tribal council serves as a court in such cases.

Smith, in his decision, said Luckerman reached out to the reservation “by entering a consensual relationship with the tribe, and accordingly, the tribal court has at least a colorable claim of jurisdiction over suits arising from that relationship.”

The tribe argued the suit should be dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity, because it is a federally recognized tribe and therefore could not be subject to such claims.

Smith disagreed with the tribe, saying, “By receiving a proposed agreement that unequivocally purported to waive the tribe’s sovereign immunity and treating that agreement as valid, the tribe expressly waived its immunity.”

However, the judge also noted that Luckerman, who is represented by Providence attorney Anthony Muri, had not exhausted his claim in Narragansett tribal court. “Whereas here, the doctrine of tribal exhaustion applies, whether to dismiss the complaint or merely stay the proceedings pending exhaustion is a decision left to the discretion of the trial court,” he said.

Smith added that because Rhode Island has a 10-year statute of limitations on contract disputes, he was enacting the stay in federal court until action in tribal court is completed.

Luckerman, along with John F. Killoy, of Wakefield, a longtime attorney for the tribe, represented the tribe in its federal lawsuit arising from the raid on the smoke shop ordered by former Gov. Donald L. Carcieri.

Forty state troopers converged on the South County Trail property, where they were greeted by tribal members who blocked the entrance of the smoke shop. As the troopers tried to gain entry to the shop, where the Narragansetts were selling tax-free tobacco products, a fight ensued, resulting in injuries, arrests and lawsuits. In a decision dated Dec. 29, 2003, Smith found the tribe must comply with the state’s cigarette tax law and the state did not violate federal laws or the tribe’s sovereign rights when it moved to enforce its criminal statutes by executing a search warrant and making arrests.



Back to LatestNews
Top Stories of the Week

Westerly man dies after fall at former Copar Quarry …
WESTERLY — A 28-year-old local man has died after sustaining serious injuries when he fell more than 80 feet at the former Copar Quarry in … more ...

Police ID man who died after fall at quarry early …
WESTERLY — Police on Monday identified the man who died after falling more than 80 feet at the former Copar quarry in Bradford early Sunday … more ...

Memorial Day parades: Your guide to when and where …
Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the American military, and for many is considered the unofficial start of the … more ...

Fire destroys garage, car in Pawcatuck …
PAWCATUCK — Firefighters prevented a garage fire from spreading to a home at 17 Croft Court Saturday, but they reported extensive smoke damage. Homeowners James … more ...

Police Logs: Sunday, May 24, 2015 …
Stonington Edward J. Gaffney, 25, of 18 Cleveland St., Apt. 2, Stonington, was charged Saturday with driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, traveling … more ...

Comments