United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
RONALD J. WALKER, Plaintiff,
JESSICA WINDY BOY, ROCKY BOY HEALTH CLINIC, and CHIPPEWA CREE TRIBE, Defendants.
Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.
Ronald J. Walker (Walker) has brought this lawsuit against
his former employer the Rocky Boy Health Center, the Chief
Executive Officer of the Rocky Boy Health Center Jessica
Windy Boy (Windy Boy), and the Chippewa Cree Tribe. Walker
asserts claims for gender discrimination and retaliation.
Walker is proceeding pro se.
before the Court is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. Walker
opposes the motion.
was employed at the Rocky Boy Health Center from January 29,
2019, until he resigned on February 8, 2019. (Doc. 10-1 at
5-6; Doc. 1-1 at 6). Walker's title was Project
Coordinator/Data Manager. (Doc. 1-1 at 6).
Rocky Boy Health Center is a health facility located on the
Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. (Doc. 1-1 at 5). The
Rocky Boy Health Center is located on property held in trust
by the United States government for the benefit of the
Chippewa Cree Tribe. (Doc. 10-1 at 5). The Chippewa Cree
Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation owns and
operates the Rocky Boy Health Center. Id.
Windy Boy is the Chief Executive Officer of the Rocky Boy
Health Center. Id. Wind Boy is a member of the
Assiniboine Tribe of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
(Doc. 10-1 at 2). Walker is a member of the Gros Ventre Tribe
of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation. (Doc. 1-1 at 5, 47)
alleges that he was forced to resign his position at the
Rocky Boy Health Center as a result of "harassment,
admonishment and humiliation" by Wind Boy. (Doc. 1-1 at
6). Walker has asserted discrimination and retaliation claims
against the Defendants based on Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a); Title I
of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C.
§ 12112 et seq.; and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, 29U.S.C. §794. (Doc. 1).
filed the present motion on August 16, 2019. Defendants argue
that this case should be dismissed or stayed for the
following reasons: 1) Walker has failed to exhaust his tribal
court remedies; 2) this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the claims asserted by Walker; and 3)
'the federal statutes cited in [Walker's] Complaint
are not applicable to the dispute and do not provide any
basis for jurisdiction." (Doc. 25 at 3-4).
of comity require a plaintiff to exhaust his tribal court
remedies before litigating his claims in federal court, when
tribal jurisdiction is "colorable." Wilson v.
Horton 's Towing, 906 F.3d 773, 777-78 (9th Cir.
2018) citing Atwood v. Fort Peck Tribal Court
Assiniboine, 513 F.3d 943, 948 (9th Cir. 2008). This
exhaustion rule is designed to promote tribal
self-government, and prevent federal courts from
"impairing [a tribal court's] authority over
reservation affairs." Iowa Mut. Ins. Co. v.
LaPIante, 480 U.S. 9, 15-16 (1987); see also
National Farmers Union Ins. Cos. v. Crow Tribe
of Indians, 471 U.S. 845, 856-57 (1985).
employ a two-pronged test to determine whether tribal
jurisdiction is colorable. Courts first examine whether the
claims asserted by the plaintiff "bear[j some direct
connection to tribal lands." Wilson, 906 F.3d
at 779. Colorable tribal jurisdiction exits if "the
events that form the bases for [p]laintiffs claims occurred
or were commenced on tribal territory." Id.
tribal jurisdiction generally does not exist if the claims
asserted by the plaintiff are based on events that occur
"off tribal lands." Id. Events that occur
off tribal land support colorable tribal jurisdiction only if
one of the two exceptions described in Montana v. United
States,450 U.S. 544 (1981), are present. Id.