U.S. ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Development Corp., No. 93-3519

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMANION; FLAUM
Citation49 F.3d 1208
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, ex rel. Glenn A. HALL, Michael A. Mapes and Fred Tribble, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. TRIBAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a Wisconsin corporation, John Doe Corporation, John Doe, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Decision Date09 March 1995
Docket NumberNo. 93-3519

Page 1208

49 F.3d 1208
63 USLW 2571
UNITED STATES of America, ex rel. Glenn A. HALL, Michael A.
Mapes and Fred Tribble, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
TRIBAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, a Wisconsin corporation,
John Doe Corporation, John Doe, et al.,
Defendants-Appellees.
No. 93-3519.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued May 9, 1994.
Decided Oct. 24, 1994.
Rehearing Granted and Opinion Vacated Dec. 20, 1994.
Decided on Rehearing March 9, 1995.

Page 1209

Thomas O. Albers, Mark John Vieno (argued), Courey, Albers, Gilbert & Riley, Dean J. Dovolas, Minneapolis, MN, for plaintiffs-appellants.

John M. Peebles, Shentell L. Auffart (argued), Peebles & Evans, Omaha, NE, for defendants-appellees.

Before MESKILL, * FLAUM, and MANION, Circuit Judges.

MANION, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiffs, Glenn A. Hall, Michael A. Mapes and Fred Tribble, appeal from the district court's dismissal of their action seeking to void certain contracts entered into between the defendants, Tribal Development

Page 1210

Corporation, and the Menominee Indian Tribe. According to plaintiffs' amended complaint, the defendants entered into lease contracts for goods and services to be used by the Tribe in the operation of gaming activities on their reservation. The plaintiffs, who do not claim to be Indians, alleged that the lease contracts violated 25 U.S.C. Sec. 81 in that they had not been sent to nor approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. 1 That being the case, the plaintiffs, as private citizens on behalf of the United States, brought this action pursuant to the qui tam 2 provisions of section 81 to void the lease contracts and to recover all monies given in consideration thereof, one-half going to the United States Treasury on behalf of the Tribe, the other half going to plaintiffs as their bounty for maintaining a successful action under the statute. Plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants were not licensed as traders to the Tribe as required by section 264 3 of the Indian Traders Licensing Act (ITLA). Pursuant to the qui tam provision of 25 U.S.C. Sec. 201, 4 the plaintiffs sought to recover from defendants all civil penalties resulting from their violations of the ITLA, as well as a forfeiture of all the gambling equipment leased to the Tribe. Plaintiffs' final claim was that the lease contracts violated various provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), 25 U.S.C. Secs. 2701 to 2721 and, once again, relying upon the qui tam provision of 25 U.S.C. Sec. 201, maintained that they were entitled to recover all civil penalties as provided for under Sec. 2713 of the IGRA. The district court sua sponte determined that plaintiffs had no standing to maintain any of their claims and, on that basis, dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint. Before evaluating that determination, we touch briefly on the history surrounding the present action.

I.

This action was originally part of a group of consolidated cases (forty-two to be exact)

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filed by the plaintiffs in the United States District Court for the Third District of Minnesota against various merchants who provided goods and services to the Tribe for use in the gaming operations on Tribal reservations. Several of the defendants filed motions to dismiss; others responded with motions for summary judgment. Pursuant to a stipulation agreement entered into between the plaintiffs and certain defendants, the Minnesota District Court entered an order for change of venue and, on May 17, 1993, transferred the present action, No. 93-3519, to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. On that same day, the plaintiffs filed their amended complaint in the Eastern District Court of Wisconsin.

On August 6, 1993, the Wisconsin District Court sua sponte entered an order stating that it had recently reviewed the Minnesota District Court's disposition of the parallel suit in In Re United States ex rel. Hall Litigation, 825 F.Supp. 1422 (D.Minn.1993), aff'd, United States ex rel. Hall v. Creative Games Technology, Inc., 27 F.3d 572 (8th Cir.1994), handed down a month after the present action had been transferred, in which that court determined that plaintiffs, as third parties with no direct interest in the challenged contracts, could not allege an "injury-in-fact" as required under Article III, and therefore were without standing to maintain their qui tam actions under 25 U.S.C. Secs. 81 and 201. See Hall, 825 F.Supp. at 1426-27. The Wisconsin District Court was persuaded by this reasoning (particularly that it was applied to the same plaintiffs) and therefore entered an order notifying the parties that they had twenty days in which to show good cause why the present action should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

On September 15, 1993, the Wisconsin District Court notified the parties that it was dismissing the plaintiffs' suit for lack of standing. In a short order, the court reiterated that it was persuaded by the reasoning of the Minnesota District Court. The court also observed that the statutes on which plaintiffs relied were enacted for the protection of Indians, whereas plaintiffs were non-Indians, thus placing them outside the "zone of interests" the statutes were intended to protect. See United States ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Development Corp., No. 93-C-494 (E.D.Wis. Sept. 15, 1993). The court concluded that because this case was indistinguishable from the Minnesota suit in Hall, it was adopting the decision of that case and accordingly dismissed the plaintiffs' suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Id.

II.

Article III, section 2 of the United States Constitution "limits the 'judicial power' to the resolution of 'cases' and 'controversies.' " Valley Forge College v. Americans United For Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 471, 102 S.Ct. 752, 757, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982). One of the incidents of Article III's case-or-controversy requirement "is that a litigant have 'standing' to challenge the action sought to be adjudicated in the lawsuit." Id. Standing, in turn, is comprised of three elements: First, the plaintiff must have suffered an "injury-in-fact"--an invasion of a legally-protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical. Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct forming the basis of the lawsuit--that is, the injury has to be traceable to the defendant and not the result of the conduct of a third person not a party to the action before the court. Third, it must be likely that the injury will be redressed through a favorable decision by the court. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 559-61, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2136, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992).

The issue before us concerns the first element, namely, whether the plaintiffs have suffered a cognizable "injury-in-fact." The district court apparently was of the view that the plaintiffs, as non-Indians who were not parties to the contract entered into between the Tribe and the defendants, failed to allege an actual or concrete injury to themselves and were therefore unable to satisfy the injury-in-fact requirement of Article III. We say "apparently," because the district court, in dismissing plaintiffs' suit, refrained from making any analysis of its own, and instead

Page 1212

stated that it was adopting outright the opinion of the Minnesota District Court in Hall. And that court concluded that the plaintiffs' failure to allege a personal injury left them without standing to sue. See Hall, 825 F.Supp. at 1425-27. 5

But we think that in focusing on whether Hall, Mapes and Tribble themselves were personally injured for purposes of Article III, the district court bypassed the real plaintiff in this suit. This is not a garden-variety private suit brought by Hall, Mapes and Tribble against the defendants. Rather, it is a qui tam action, brought in the name of and on behalf of the United States, as witnessed by the caption of the complaint filed in the district court: "United States ex rel. Glenn A. Hall, Michael A. Mapes, and Fred Tribble." This is not an instance of artful pleading. Rather it is a requirement of the statutes under which these actions were brought, see 25 U.S.C. Sec. 81 (suit to recover under this section must be brought "in the name of the United States"); 25 U.S.C. Sec. 201 (suit to recover penalties under Title XVIII of the Revised Statutes of 1834 must be brought "in the name of the United States"). It is also a requirement of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a) ("when a statute of the United States provides, an action for the use or benefit of another shall be brought in the name of the United States."); see also 6A Charles A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure Sec. 1551 at 390 (1990) (same). This makes sense. Qui tam suits by definition involve suits brought by private parties to assist the executive branch in its enforcement of the law, the violation of which affects the interest of the government, not the individual relator, whose only motivation in bringing the suit is to recover a piece of the action given by statute. So when a legislative body enacts provisions enabling qui tam actions, that act carries with it an understanding that in such suits it is the government, and not the individual relator, who has suffered the injury resulting from the violation of the underlying law and is therefore the real plaintiff in the action. 6

Although the Supreme Court has never directly addressed this question, statements from different Justices make it reasonable to infer that if presented with the question today the Court would approve of the notion that it is the government, and not the individual relator, who is the real plaintiff in a qui tam suit. For example, in Marvin v. Trout, 199 U.S. 212, 26 S.Ct. 31, 50...

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44 practice notes
  • United States ex rel. Nissman v. Southland Gaming of the Virgin Islands, Inc., Civil Action No. 2011-0010
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of the Virgin Islands
    • March 31, 2016
    ...qui tam remedy for false claims against Indian Tribes." (Dkt. No. 37 at 16 (citing United States ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp. , 49 F.3d 1208 (7th Cir.1995) ) and 25 U.S.C. §§ 81 and 201 ).25 Section 843 of Title 14 of the Virgin Islands Code, entitled "Fraudulent claims upon the govern......
  • Gillespie v. City of Indianapolis, No. IP 98-0266-C B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • June 5, 1998
    ...Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3522 at 69-72 (2d ed.1984) (collecting cases); United States v. Tribal Development Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1216 (7th Cir.1994) (court's authority to act under Article III carries with it a corresponding duty to monitor its jurisdiction)), which ob......
  • U.S. ex rel. Butler v. Magellan Health Services, No. 97-1925-CIV-T-17B.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • November 5, 1999
    ...injury would be to the public fisc. However, this argument has overwhelmingly failed. See, e.g., U.S. ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1212-14 (7th Cir.1995); U.S. ex rel. Taxpayers Against Fraud v. General Electric Co., 41 F.3d 1032, 1040-42 (6th Cir.1994); U.S. ex rel. Kel......
  • U.S. ex rel. Foster v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Civil Action No. 9:05-CV-84-TH JURY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • September 24, 2008
    ...Riley v. St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp., 252 F.3d 749, 756 n. 10 (5th Cir.2001) (quoting United States ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1213 (7th Cir.1995)). However, Foster takes this quote from Riley out of context in an attempt to show that the identities of the relator and t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • United States ex rel. Nissman v. Southland Gaming of the Virgin Islands, Inc., Civil Action No. 2011-0010
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of the Virgin Islands
    • March 31, 2016
    ...qui tam remedy for false claims against Indian Tribes." (Dkt. No. 37 at 16 (citing United States ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp. , 49 F.3d 1208 (7th Cir.1995) ) and 25 U.S.C. §§ 81 and 201 ).25 Section 843 of Title 14 of the Virgin Islands Code, entitled "Fraudulent claims upon the govern......
  • Gillespie v. City of Indianapolis, No. IP 98-0266-C B/S.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • June 5, 1998
    ...Federal Practice and Procedure: Jurisdiction § 3522 at 69-72 (2d ed.1984) (collecting cases); United States v. Tribal Development Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1216 (7th Cir.1994) (court's authority to act under Article III carries with it a corresponding duty to monitor its jurisdiction)), which ob......
  • U.S. ex rel. Butler v. Magellan Health Services, No. 97-1925-CIV-T-17B.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • November 5, 1999
    ...injury would be to the public fisc. However, this argument has overwhelmingly failed. See, e.g., U.S. ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1212-14 (7th Cir.1995); U.S. ex rel. Taxpayers Against Fraud v. General Electric Co., 41 F.3d 1032, 1040-42 (6th Cir.1994); U.S. ex rel. Kel......
  • U.S. ex rel. Foster v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Civil Action No. 9:05-CV-84-TH JURY.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • September 24, 2008
    ...Riley v. St. Luke's Episcopal Hosp., 252 F.3d 749, 756 n. 10 (5th Cir.2001) (quoting United States ex rel. Hall v. Tribal Dev. Corp., 49 F.3d 1208, 1213 (7th Cir.1995)). However, Foster takes this quote from Riley out of context in an attempt to show that the identities of the relator and t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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