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Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Appellant corporation sought review of the decision of the Superior Court of Fresno County (California), which found in favor of defendant Indian tribe (tribe) and dismissed the corporation’s breach of contract action.

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The corporation challenged the dismissal of its complaint for breach of contract filed against the tribe. The trial court stated that the complaint was completely preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C.S. §§ 2701-2721, because the corporation’s claims threatened to directly affect or interfere with the tribe’s gaming operations. The court reversed, stating that the corporation’s claim fell outside the parameters of IGRA regulation. The corporation’s complaint alleged state law causes of action for breach of contract and sought money damages. Further, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) determined that neither the termination agreement nor the consulting agreement required the approval of the NIGC chairman. Thus, based on the contracts’ present status (they have not been further interpreted by the NIGC), the court concluded that the contracts fell outside the IGRA’s protective structure. The corporation was seeking money damages only; thus, the claim did not attempt to undermine the tribe’s decision to terminate its business relationship with the corporation. Consequently, it did not diminish the tribe’s control over its gaming operation.


The court reversed the dismissal of the corporation’s breach of contract action against the tribe.