355 F.3d 141 (2nd Cir. 2004), 03-6143, Chayoon v. Chao

Docket Nº:03-6143
Citation:355 F.3d 141
Party Name:Chayoon v. Chao
Case Date:January 16, 2004
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 141

355 F.3d 141 (2nd Cir. 2004)

Joseph CHAYOON, Plaintiff-Appellant,


Elaine L. CHAO, United States Secretary of Labor, Movant-Appellee,

Kenneth M. Reels, Richard A. Hayward, Pedro Johnson, Fatima Dames, Charlene Jones, John E. Perry, William J. Sherlock, James A. Rigot, Rich Tesler, Linda Smith, Mike Rich, Bruce Kirshner, Nafeezar Shabazz, Joann Frank, Fay E. Carlson, Dottie Killy, Foxwoods Mgmt. Team, Michael Thomas, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 03-6143.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

January 16, 2004

Argued: Jan. 6, 2004.

Page 142

Joseph Chayoon, pro se, Westerly, RI, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Elizabeth Conway, Brown Jacobson P.C., Norwich, CT, for Defendants-Appellees.

Lauren M. Nash, Assistant United States Attorney, New Haven, CT, (Kevin J. O'Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, of counsel, Jeffrey A. Meyer, Assistant United States Attorney, on the memorandum), for Movant-Appellee.

Before: FEINBERG, WESLEY, Circuit Judges, and PAULEY, District Judge.1


Plaintiff-Appellant Joseph Chayoon appeals the district court's dismissal of his Federal Medical Leave Act ("FMLA"), 29 U.S.C. § 2601 et seq., claim against several individuals who either hold positions on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council or are officers and/or employees of Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, which operates the gaming facility known as Foxwoods Resort Casino. We affirm the district court's dismissal for lack of

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subject matter jurisdiction because defendants are immune from this suit.2

"On a motion invoking sovereign immunity to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that jurisdiction exists." Garcia v. Akwesasne Hous. Auth., 268 F.3d 76, 84 (2d Cir. 2001). This Court reviews the district court's "factual findings for clear error and legal conclusions de novo." Id. (quotation marks and citation omitted).

Indian tribes enjoy the same immunity from suit enjoyed by sovereign powers and are "subject to suit only where Congress has authorized the suit or the tribe has waived its immunity." Kiowa Tribe of Okla. v. Mfg. Techs., Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 754, 118 S.Ct. 1700, 140 L.Ed.2d 981 (1998). "To abrogate tribal immunity, Congress must 'unequivocally' express that purpose," and "to relinquish its immunity, a...

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