Decided Cases

For case status and summary, select the year the case was filed:

 

2007 Decided Cases:

EJC Cases

 Michelle Tobey-Russell v. Glenn Marshall

CV-07-001

The synopsis and decision were taken from a memorandum by Judiciary Committee Chairman Paul Mills, dated October 8, 2007.

Plaintiff brought suit against Tribe challenging the Tribal Counsel’s decision to shun her for allegedly participating in a lawsuit against the Tribe.  The Judiciary Committee determined the plaintiff had not been involved in a prior suit against the tribe.

Case was resolved by the Judiciary Committee on June 21, 2007, and the Tribal Council ordered to reinstate plaintiff’s membership.

 

Aaron Tobey, Jr. v. Shawn Hendricks, Sr.

CV-07-003

Synopsis:

Plaintiff brought suit claiming the Tribal Council did not call a special general tribal membership meeting in accordance with the Tribe’s Constitution.  Plaintiff contends that his submission of a petition with one hundred twenty-eight names was more than sufficient, but the Tribal Council allegedly de-certified thirty-one signatures, invalidating the petition.  The plaintiff states he requested an explanation of the de-certified names on the petition, and after not receiving this information, filed suit to demand an explanation from the Tribal Council.

Case withdrawn

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Tribal Court Cases

2008 Decided Cases:

Theodore Jonas v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council

CV-08-002

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed October 2, 2008), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 2, 2009).  Jonas v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, CV-08-002 (November 2, 2009). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Upon Plaintiff’s application approval, both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

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2009 Decided Cases:

CV-09-001

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original request for an advisory opinion (dated January 29, 2009), an Order Denying Motion to Vacate and separate Opinion and Answer drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated February 8, 2009 and February 6, 2009, respectively).  In re: Certified questions from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Yvonne Avant, on behalf of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, CV-09-001 (February 9, 2009). 

Yvonne Avant filed a request for certified answers from the Tribal Court regarding a question over the legality of an emergency hearing held by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council on January 9, 2009.

Issues for certification:

1)      Whether the court has jurisdiction to give a certified answer in this matter;

2)      Whether the January 9, 2009 emergency meeting of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council was legally called pursuant to Art. IX §1(b)(3) of the Mashpee Wampanoag Constitution; and

3)      Whether Tribal Chief Vernon Lopez’s participation in the meeting, which resulted in the quorum necessary to conduct business, was legal given the fact that previously he had verbally submitted his resignation from his office.

Holding

1)      The court first addresses the issue of jurisdiction, stating that due to the Tribe’s silence on whether the trial court may or may not answer certified questions from a source other than a higher court, jurisdiction still exists here under Grande Ronde Tribe statute, which allows that tribe’s trial court to answer certified questions from sources other than a higher court.

2)      The court did not find that the emergency meeting violated Art. IX §1(b)(3) of the Mashpee Constitution as notice was posted to the Tribal members, that notice informed Tribal members of the matters to be voted on at the emergency meeting, the meeting was held January 9, 2009, and a majority of the council members voted in favor of the proposed shunning and disciplinary action proposed.  The court also stated that before it could hold whether the emergency meeting was legal beyond these facts, it must first decide the final question about Vernon Lopez.

3)      Assuming that Tribal Chief Vernon Lopez is an elected Tribal official, he did not submit his resignation in writing to the Tribal Council or any other Tribal entity.  Based on the finding that Tribal Chief Lopez had merely given a verbal resignation that would not take effect until his replacement was chosen, the Court holds that the Chief had not yet resigned from his role as Tribal Chief during the January 9, 2009 meeting, making the emergency meeting legal.

 

February 7, 2009

This subsequent ruling was taken from an Order Denying Motion to Vacate drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated February 8, 2009).

David Pocknett filed a Motion to Vacate the Court’s Opinion and Answers above.  The Court amended its prior answer by renaming the original request an Advisory Opinion, but did not otherwise amend its holdings.  The Motion to vacate was denied.

 

CV-09-001- This case does not have a final decision on file, but was part of the following membership cases.

 

John McDermott v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-003

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed February 9, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated January 2, 2013).  McDermott v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-003 (January 2, 2013). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Petitioner withdrew case, and case was dismissed on January 2, 2013 nunc pro tunc August 31, 2012.

 

Marsha Jones v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-004

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed February 25, 2009), and case withdrawal letter drafted by Attorney Heidi Nadel on behalf of the petitioner.  Jones v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-004 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Petitioner withdrew case after membership was approved.

 

 

Dakota Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-005

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed in 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court.  Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-005 (November 15, 2010).  

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Patricia Greene Byrd v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-006

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed March 18, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Byrd v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-006 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

 

Jeffery Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-007

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed October 30, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-007 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Connor Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-008

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed October 30, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-008 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and without cost to either party.

 

 

Cheyenne Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-009

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed October 30, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-009 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Deborah Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-010

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed October 30, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Gordon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-010 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Gayle Andrews

CV-09-011

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed April 17, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated March 10, 2010).  Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Andrews, CV-09-011 (March 17, 2010). 

Plaintiff in this action seeks declaratory and injunctive relief regarding a contract the Tribe alleges is invalid.  The Tribe also sought to have the defendant barred from representing the Tribe in any official or media-based capacity, fearing that doing so will continue to cause irreparable harm to the tribe.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case on the grounds that the case has been settled.  The court thereby dismissed the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Andrew Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-09-013

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed November 5, 2009), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux in the District Court (dated November 5, 2010).  Hunter v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-09-013 (November 15, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that membership was denied in error.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Angela Shwom v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

CV-09-014

Court fees for this case were not submitted, so the case was not actually opened.

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2010 Decided Cases:

 

Brad Bacon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee

CV-10-004

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed February 17, 2010), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Robert F. Mills sitting in the District Court.  Bacon v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Enrollment Committee, CV-10-004 (October 13, 2010). 

Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that his membership had been denied in error after having been approved for membership one year prior to the subsequent denial.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss the case with prejudice, an and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

 

Denise Mills v. Darius Coombs, Mat Boardley, and Phillip Wynn

CV-10-006

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed May 19, 2010), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Henry J. Sockbeson sitting in the District Court.  Mills v. Coombs, Boardley, and Wynn, CV-10-006 (January 17, 2013). 

Synopsis: Plaintiff sought relief from alleged incidents involving three members of the tribe at her workplace, The Plymouth Plantation, which plaintiff claimed said harassment resulted in the termination of her employment at the plantation.

No parties appeared for hearing, so case was dismissed with prejudice.

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2011 No Cases Decided

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2012 Decided Cases:

 

Stone v. Cromwell, et al.

CV-12-007

The synopsis and holding are taken from Memorandum Opinion and Order drafted by Judge Jeffery L. Madison sitting in the District Court.  Stone v. Cromwell, et al., CV-12-007 (February 19, 2015). 

Synopsis:
            Plaintiff alleges she was wrongfully removed from her position as the Tribe’s Human Resources Manager by a vote of the defendants during a Tribal Council meeting.  Plaintiff claims that the termination of her employment violated the Tribe’s Constitution, and as a result, she suffered various damages such as lost wages (past and future), emotional distress, and others.

Two issues before the court are:
1) Whether the Mashpee Tribal Council, through its members, violated Plaintiff’s rights as alleged in her complaint; and
2) Whether this Court may review the purported violations given issues of sovereign immunity asserted by the Tribe.

Holding

1)      Defendants, though named individually, were acting within their lawful authority when they made decisions affecting Plaintiff.  Any relief granted would amount to specific performance against the Tribe.

2)      Sovereign immunity is a jurisdictional bar that requires dismissal of a Plaintiff’s claims absent an express waiver by the Tribe.  The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe did not grant such a waiver related to Plaintiff’s allegations that allow for this court to consider her allegations.  The Court is without jurisdiction to hear this lawsuit because it is barred from doing so by Defendant’s sovereign immunity.

Case dismissed with prejudice.

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2013 No Decided Cases

CV-13-001

Richard Oakley v. Tribal Election Committee Status: Dismissed Judge: Mills Court: District Filed: 26-Feb-13 Closed: 4-Jun-13

Cases Opened no Follow-up by Plaintiff.

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2014 Decided Cases:

 

Aaron Tobey v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Election Commission

CV-14-001

The synopsis and final order are taken from the original complaint (filed February 10, 2014), and Order of Dismissal drafted by Judge Robert F. Mills sitting in the District Court.  Tobey v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Election Commission, CV-14-001 (December 5, 2014). 

Synopsis:  Plaintiff filed complaint to appeal alleged election irregularities in Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal election process.

Both parties stipulated to dismiss that case.  The case was dismissed with prejudice, and each party bearing his or her own costs and fees.

 

  

Daniel Tavares v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

CV-14-002

The synopsis and holding are taken from Memorandum Opinion and Order drafted by Judge Rochelle Ducheneaux sitting in the Supreme Court.  Tavares v. Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, CV-14-002 (November 13, 2014 nunc pro tunc August 24, 2014).

Synopsis: Defendant appeals May 19, 2014 decision denying the Tribe’s request to have the case dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity.  Defendant argues that Stone v. Cromwell, (CV 2012-001) applied in determining the court’s jurisdiction, but the court did not apply Stone in its May decision, stating that the case was unpublished, and therefore stare decisis did not apply.  On this basis, the court did not perform a jurisdiction analysis, but rather ruled simply that the court did, in fact, have jurisdiction over the matter.

The issues before the court are:

1)      Whether the court determined its jurisdiction;

2)      Whether stare decisis applies to unpublished cases; and

3)      Whether the Tribal Court has jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s case.

Holding

1)      The court failed to assure itself of its own jurisdiction, and in error focused on whether Stone was the proper precedent to apply in determining sovereign immunity without making the actual determination of whether sovereign immunity existed;

2)      The court failed to apply Stone precedent, and no supervening has since overturned the Stone ruling.  While Stone had not been published online, the case was available in the court clerk’s office, and had not been overturned by any subsequent decisions.

3)      Based on the requirements set forth in Stone, the Tribe did not consent to being sued or waive its immunity from this suit.

Defendant’s motions to reconsider and dismiss on grounds of sovereign immunity are granted.

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