At & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, No. CV97-392-N-EJL.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. District of Idaho
Writing for the CourtLodge
Citation45 F.Supp.2d 995
PartiesAT & T CORP., Plaintiff-Counterdefendant, v. COEUR D'ALENE TRIBE, Defendant-Counterplaintiff.
Docket NumberNo. CV97-392-N-EJL.
Decision Date17 December 1998
45 F.Supp.2d 995
AT & T CORP., Plaintiff-Counterdefendant,
v.
COEUR D'ALENE TRIBE, Defendant-Counterplaintiff.
No. CV97-392-N-EJL.
United States District Court, D. Idaho.
December 17, 1998.

Page 996

John C. Judge, Landeck Westberg Judge & Graham, Moscow, ID.

Howard Spierer, AT & T Office of the Solicitor General, Liberty Corner, NJ.

Raymond C. Givens, Givens & Funke, Coeur d'Alene, ID. Michael R. Shebelskie, Hunton & Williams, Richmond, VA.

Page 997

Patricia M. Schwarzschild, Hunton & Williams, Richmond, VA.

Jonathan A. Glogau, Office of Attorney General, Tallahassee, FL. Alan I. Gilbert, Office of Attorney General, St. Paul, MN.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

LODGE, District Judge.


Introduction

In an effort to facilitate participation in the National Indian Lottery (the "Lottery") the Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho asked AT & T Corporation to provide toll-free interstate telephone service ("800 Service") between the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, in Idaho and 33 states, plus the District of Columbia. Citing the authority granted by 18 U.S.C. § 1084(d), the Attorneys General of numerous states informed AT & T that furnishing interstate 800 Service for the Lottery would violate various federal and state laws, and requested that AT & T refuse to provide the 800 Service to the Tribe (the "§ 1084(d) Notices"). In response to the § 1084(d) Notices, AT & T advised the Tribe that it could not provide 800 Service for the Lottery in any other jurisdiction than Idaho until "all legal differences between the State Attorneys General and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe" had been resolved.

The Tribe then initiated a legal action in the Coeur d'Alene Tribal Court, requesting both a declaration that the Lottery was legal and a permanent injunction prohibiting AT & T from denying 800 Service to the Tribe. On February 28, 1996, the Tribal Court entered an Order that granted summary judgment in favor of the Tribe and denied AT & T's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The Coeur d'Alene Tribal Appellate Court subsequently affirmed the Tribal Court's decision.

On August 22, 1997, AT & T filed a Complaint in this Court alleging that the Tribal Court lacked the authority to adjudicate the dispute (Counts I, II, and III) and, in the alternative, that the Tribal Court's decision was erroneous as a matter of law (Count IV). AT & T also seeks a declaratory judgment to establish its rights and duties with respect to the Tribe's request for 800 Service and the § 1084(d) Notices (Count V). The Tribe answered and counterclaimed. In Count I of the Counterclaim the Tribe requests a declaratory judgment affirming the validity of the Tribal Court's Order. In Count II the Tribe seeks a declaratory judgment pronouncing the Lottery legal in all respects and a permanent injunction requiring AT & T to furnish interstate 800 Service in connection with the Lottery.

The Tribe now moves for partial summary judgment on Count V of AT & T's Complaint and on Count II of the Tribe's Counterclaim, contending it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law in respect to a declaration that the Lottery is legal and an injunction that requires AT & T to provide the Tribe with 800 Service. AT & T moves on a cross-motion for summary judgment for an order reversing the Order of the Tribal Court, pursuant to Counts I, II and III of the Complaint. Jurisdiction over this action is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Having heard oral argument on this matter1, and having reviewed the record and controlling law, the Court rules as follows.

DISCUSSION
I

A. Background

The Court first considers whether the Tribe is entitled to summary judgment on its motion. Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine dispute of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Summers

Page 998

v. A. Teichert & Son, Inc., 127 F.3d 1150, 1152 (9th Cir.1997). The material facts, as recounted below, are not in dispute.

In accordance with the procedures set forth in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et seq., the Tribe and the State of Idaho entered into a compact that permits the Tribe to conduct a lottery. The Secretary of Interior approved the compact ("Coeur d'Alene Tribe/Idaho Compact") and published his approval in the Federal Register, Relying on the authority provided by the compact, the Tribe established the National Indian Lottery.2 As required by IGRA, the Tribe submitted to the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission ("NIGC") for his review a management agreement detailing the intended operation of the Lottery. The Chairman approved the Tribe's management agreement and business plan.

The Tribe, through its managing agent, Unistar Entertainment, Inc. ("Unistar"), began operating the Lottery in January of 1998. Participants in the Lottery purchase chances and, at their option, either select or are randomly assigned a sequence of numbers for each chance purchased. The funds obtained through the sale of chances, less certain deductions, constitute the prize pool. At a weekly drawing, a sequence of numbers is randomly drawn as the "winning numbers." The operations used to select the winning numbers, including the computer and associated software, are located on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation (the "Reservation").

Players who wish to purchase chances in the Lottery can do so in person or by telephone. Before the Tribe will accept an order by telephone, the player must establish an account with the Tribe on the Reservation. A player may fund the account either by credit card authorization or by otherwise delivering to the Tribe proceeds to be deposited into the account. The purchase price of any telephone order is debited from the account maintained in the player's name by the Tribe on the Reservation. If requested, a player will receive written confirmation of the transaction. Any winnings are credited to the player's account. Players can retrieve funds from their accounts by sending instructions to the Tribe to distribute the proceeds.

Prior to the initiation of this lawsuit, the Tribe, through Unistar, asked AT & T to provide 800 Service for the purpose of linking the reservation to the 33 states, plus the District of Columbia, that conduct state sponsored lotteries. In its request, the Tribe acknowledged that "the [tollfree] telephone number will be used ... for lottery wagering." (Exs. in Supp. of Tribe's Mot., Ex. Q).

The Federal Communication Act imposes a general obligation on every telephone company engaged in interstate communications to provide service upon reasonable request. 47 U.S.C. §§ 201(a), 202(a). An exception to this general obligation is set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 1084(d). That statutory provision provides in relevant part:

When any common carrier ... is notified in writing by a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency, acting within its jurisdiction, that any facility furnished by it ... will be used for the purpose of transmitting or receiving gambling information in interstate ... commerce in violation of Federal, State, or local law, it shall ... refuse, the ... furnishing ... of such facility.

Pursuant to § 1084(d), Attorneys General from at least 10 states gave notice to AT & T that furnishing 800 Service for the Lottery would violate both federal and state laws. In reliance on the § 1084(d) Notices, AT & T informed the Tribe that it could not provide 800 Service in connection with the Lottery. Subsequently, the Tribe successfully pursued a legal action against AT & T in Tribal Court, obtaining a permanent injunction that prohibits AT & T

Page 999

from denying the Tribe 800 Service. AT & T then initiated the present action, seeking, inter alia, a declaration as to its rights and duties in regards to the Tribe's request for 800 Service and the § 1084(d) Notices.

B. Effect of the § 1084(d) Notices

The Tribe contends that the § 1084(d) Notices are not valid and therefore AT & T is not bound to honor the demands by the Attorneys General that AT & T refuse the Tribe 800 Service. In this regard, the Tribe argues that a valid notice under § 1084(d) must issue from a law enforcement agency "acting within its jurisdiction." The Tribe notes that the § 1084(d) Notices are based in part on the assertion that the Lottery is unlawful under federal law in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1301, 1302 and 1304, and 18 U.S.C. § 1084(a). Observing that "nothing in the federal code authorizes state attorneys general to prosecute alleged violations of the federal criminal statutes," the Tribe contends the § 1084(d) Notices are invalid with respect to the purported violations of federal law. (Tribe's Br. in Supp. at 10-11 & n. 5).

Section 1084(d) does not "create[ ] an offense of transmitting or receiving gambling information in interstate or foreign commerce." Telephone News System, Inc. v. Illinois Bell Tel Co., 220 F.Supp. 621, 625 (N.D.Ill.1963), aff'd 376 U.S. 782, 84 S.Ct. 1134, 12 L.Ed.2d 83 (1964). Instead, the determination of whether an offense has been committed "is to be determined by reference to federal, state, and local criminal laws which proscribe the sending or receiving of gambling information." Id. For this reason, and in accordance with the express language of the statute, a notice is valid under § 1084(d) only if it has been issued by the "agencies charged with enforcement" of the relevant federal or state statute. See id.

All the § 1084(d) Notices received by AT & T in this case were sent by Attorneys General charged only with the enforcement of state law. The Notices, therefore, are invalid to the extent they allege a violation of the federal criminal statutes. Id. Thus, the § 1084(d) Notices are effective, if at all, to preclude 800 Service only in instances where the Lottery violates a law of the state issuing the Notice.

The fact that the § 1084(d) Notices are only valid to notify AT & T of possible state law violations necessarily...

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3 practice notes
  • At & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, No. 99-35088.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 19, 2002
    ...held that the lottery was operating outside IGRA, which would otherwise preempt state law. AT & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 1002-1003 (D.Idaho 1998). Finding that the Tribal Court's decision was erroneous as a matter of federal law, the district court denied as moo......
  • At & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, No. 99-35088.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 19, 2002
    ...held that the lottery was operating outside IGRA, which would otherwise preempt state law. AT & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 1002-1003 (D.Idaho 1998). Finding that the Tribal Court's decision was erroneous as a matter of federal law, the district court denied as moo......
  • State ex rel. Suthers v. Cash Ad. and Pref., No. 07CA0582.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 17, 2008
    ...See Missouri ex rel. Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102, 1109 n. 5 (8th Cir.1999)(citing AT&T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 999-1000 (D.Idaho 1998), rev'd on other grounds, 295 F.3d 899 (9th Cir.2002))("[The] Tribe's lottery is not on Indian lands when th......
3 cases
  • At & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, No. 99-35088.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 19, 2002
    ...held that the lottery was operating outside IGRA, which would otherwise preempt state law. AT & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 1002-1003 (D.Idaho 1998). Finding that the Tribal Court's decision was erroneous as a matter of federal law, the district court denied as moo......
  • At & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, No. 99-35088.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • March 19, 2002
    ...held that the lottery was operating outside IGRA, which would otherwise preempt state law. AT & T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 1002-1003 (D.Idaho 1998). Finding that the Tribal Court's decision was erroneous as a matter of federal law, the district court denied as moo......
  • State ex rel. Suthers v. Cash Ad. and Pref., No. 07CA0582.
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • April 17, 2008
    ...See Missouri ex rel. Nixon v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F.3d 1102, 1109 n. 5 (8th Cir.1999)(citing AT&T Corp. v. Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 45 F.Supp.2d 995, 999-1000 (D.Idaho 1998), rev'd on other grounds, 295 F.3d 899 (9th Cir.2002))("[The] Tribe's lottery is not on Indian lands when th......

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