The Confederated? Tribes? of? the? Colville Reservation is a sovereign tribe recognized by the U.S. government. The tribe created some business entities which hired plaintiff Christopher Wright, a non-Indian,? ?as? ?a? ?pipe? ?layer? ?and? ?equipment operator. Wright, who worked off-reservation on a project for the U.S. Navy, alleged race discrimination?? and?? state?? common?? law?? torts against his employers and supervisor. The trial court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals reversed and held that sovereign immunity does not protect the tribal employer. Reversing, the Supreme Court held that the entities created by the tribe under its own law and which distribute funds to the tribe are entitled to immunity because the tribe has not explicitly waived immunity and Congress has not abrogated it. Likewise, the immunity extends to Wright?s supervisor in his official but not individual capacity. The concurrence contended that the plurality ignored relevant factors to determine that the tribal entities act as entities of the tribe, such as the purpose the entity was created, and argued that the plurality did not have the authority to establish its bright-line rule, a matter of federal law. The dissent asserted that numerous factual disputes made it inappropriate to? decide? on? a? motion? to? dismiss? whether? the tribal entities were entitled to immunity. Wright v. Colville Tribal Enter. Corp., No. 03-2-00850-2 (12/7/06, Sanders for the plurality; Madsen concurring joined by Fairhurst; C. Johnson for the dissent joined by Chambers and J. Johnson).
Tribal Immunity Extends to All Tribal Corporations Absent Waiver and Abrogation
Dec 7, 2006