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Shingle Springs Tribe wins long-running legal case

The

shinglesprings
California Court of Appeals has dismissed the legal case filed by Sharp Image Gaming in its long-running legal dispute with the Shingle Springs band of Miwok Indians, ending a bitter legal battle which has lasted for over a decade.

Sharp Image Gaming’s dispute with the tribe began when it had to abandon attempts to build a casino in partnership with the tribe during the 1990s. In 2007 officials from the company sued the Shingle Springs band of Miwok Indians for damages of $300m on two contracts agreed between Sharp and the tribe, with tribal officials maintaining that they had no contract obligations to Sharp Image Gaming following the failure of the venture.

Despite the tribe's assertion the case went to trial in the El Dorado Superior court, where the judges awarded Sharp Image Gaming $30m, a ruling which the California Court of Appeals has now dismissed stating that the case should never have gone to trial.

In its ruling, the California Court of Appeal found that both contracts were illegal and thus unenforceable under federal law. Specifically, the Court ruled that one contract was a "management" contract under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and the second was interrelated and so "collateral" to the management contract.

As neither was approved by the federal agency charged with regulating Indian gaming, as the federal law requires, neither could be enforced by Sharp Image.

Further to ruling in favour of the tribe, the Court of Appeal also ordered Sharp Image to reimburse the tribe for the costs it incurred in pursuing its appeal. The opinion will be published as citable California appellate precedent, with the tribe considering whether to pursue recovery of the legal fees it incurred against Sharp Image.

In a statement, Nicholas Fonseca, Chairman of Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians welcomed the appeal court’s ruling saying: “I always believed the Tribe was in the right.

“I’m glad the Tribe had the perseverance to stay the course. This is a victory for all tribes in California.”


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