Judge's ruling favors Fond du Lac Band over City of DuluthUPDATE: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court’s ruling requiring the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to make an estimated $14 million in casino revenue back payments to the City of Duluth.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court’s ruling requiring the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to make an estimated $14 million in casino revenue back payments to the City of Duluth.
The ruling, filed today, upheld the Nov. 21, 2011, decision depriving Duluth of an annual revenue stream of about $6 million, as the ruling released the band from any obligation to share future profits from the Fond-du-Luth Casino. However, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson also had ordered the band to honor a profit-sharing agreement that was in place with the city through April 2011. The band ceased making payments to the city in 2009, touching off an ongoing legal battle.
Today’s Circuit Court ruling affirmed the district court ruling “relieving the Band of prospective compliance with the 1994 consent decree, but reverse its denial of the Band’s request for retrospective relief … and remand that question for further proceedings consistent with this option.”
“Obviously, we are quite pleased with the ruling,” Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen R. Diver said. “We will have to go back to the district court, Judge Nelson, but she has more options before her now. We are glad that the band’s position has been affirmed again."
The Fond du Lac Band filed an appeal Dec. 21, 2011, challenging Nelson’s decision that could require it to make an estimated $14 million in back payments to the city of Duluth. The city of Duluth responded in kind by filing its own appeal of the case later the same day.
The band paid the city approximately $75 million between 1994 and 2009. The band did not appeal the district court’s ruling that it cannot recover the rent paid to the city for that period.
The city has scheduled a 12:30 p.m. city hall news conference on the ruling.