Cases & Deals

David Patchak obtains favorable U.S. Supreme Court decision in sovereign immunity and standing case

Clients Patchak, David

On June 18, 2012, the United States Supreme Court decided a significant case regarding sovereign immunity and standing, ruling in favor of David Patchak, a client of Jones Day and co-counsel Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak.

Mr. Patchak brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to prevent the Department of the Interior from taking land into trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band, which would be used for a casino complex in the township where Mr. Patchak lived. Mr. Patchak argued that because the Band was not federally recognized when Congress enacted the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) in 1934, the IRA did not allow the Department of the Interior to take land into trust for the Band, and that a casino complex would destroy the rural character of his community. The district court dismissed Mr. Patchak’s claims, but the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Mr. Patchak had a viable claim under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

In an 8-1 decision authored by Justice Kagan, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court held that Mr. Patchak’s claims were not barred by sovereign immunity because the United States has waived its immunity for APA claims. The Court rejected the argument of the Band and the United States that the Quiet Title Act (QTA) barred Mr. Patchak’s claims, reasoning that the QTA’s sovereign-immunity provision applies only to actions to quiet title and that this is not a quiet-title action because Mr. Patchak does not claim an interest in the land at issue. The Court also held that Mr. Patchak has prudential standing because his claim regarding the use of the land is within the zone of interests of the IRA provision regarding land acquisition.

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, Nos. 11-246 and 11-247 (U.S.S.C.); Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, --- S. Ct. --- (2012)