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Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States

Docket No.: 14-510
Certiorari Granted: 06/30/15
Argued: December 1, 2015

Topics:

Contract Disputes Act, Holland test, Indian Self-Determination Act, equitable tolling, statute of limitations

PartyNames: Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States, et al.
Petitioner: Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
Respondent: United States, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Citation: 764 F.3d 51
Supreme Court Docket

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin
v.
United States, et al.
Background:

Holland v. Florida, 560 U.S. 631, 649 (2010), established that equitable tolling of a non-jurisdictional statute of limitations is warranted where a party shows (1) diligence in pursuing its rights, and (2) that some extraordinary circumstance stood in the way of timely filing. In its decision below, the D.C. Circuit applied the Holland test and concluded that the Menominee Indian Tribe did not establish the necessary grounds for obtaining equitable tolling of the statute of limitations for filing claims against the Indian Health Service ("IHS") under the Contract Disputes Act ("CDA") for unpaid contract support costs ("CSC"). As acknowledged in its opinion, the D.C. Circuit's application of Holland and its ultimate ruling was in direct conflict with the Federal Circuit's opinion in Arctic Slope Native Ass'n, Ltd. v. Sebelius, 699 F.3d 1289 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (Pet. App. 75a-97a), which found that the plaintiff tribal organization in that case was entitled to equitable tolling of the CDA statute of limitations under materially similar facts. The Federal Circuit's opinion and the D.C. Circuit's opinion below are in irreconcilable conflict with one another. Unless and until reconciled by this Court, the conflict will almost certainly undermine fairness and consistency in the administration of justice in the wide array of civil and criminal contexts in which equitable tolling arises. Meanwhile, the D.C. Circuit's decision denies the Menominee Indian Tribe the right to full recovery under its Indian Self-Determination contract based on a narrow and inflexible application of Holland, even as other tribes and tribal organizations may vindicate that right by filing their claims in a different forum. The Tribe therefore seeks this Court's review of the following critical question:

Consideration Limited:

Whether the D. C. Circuit misapplied this Court's Holland decision when it ruled that the Tribe was not entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations for filing of Indian Self-Determination Act claims under the Contract Disputes Act?

Question Presented:

Whether the D.C. Circuit misapplied this Court's Holland decision when it ruled - in direct conflict with a holding of the Federal Circuit on materially similar facts - that the Tribe did not face an "extraordinary circumstance" warranting equitable tolling of the statute of limitations for filing of Indian Self-Determination Act claims under the Contract Disputes Act?

Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States
ORAL ARGUMENT

December 1, 2015

Listen to Oral Argument in Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States
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