United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Western Division
JEFFREY L. VIKEN, CHIEF JUDGE
Rudy Stanko filed a ten-count complaint against the
defendants. (Docket 1). Defendants Oglala Sioux Tribe
(“OST” or the “Tribe”), Vannesia
Rodriguez, Charles Hunter, Jodie Garnette, Tatewin Means, and
John Hussman (jointly the “Individual Tribal
Defendants”) filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
or, in the alternative, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) for
failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
(Docket 7). Mr. Stanko resists the defendants' motion.
(Dockets 9 & 11). For the reasons stated below, the
defendants' motion to dismiss is granted.
Tribe is a federally recognized tribe. Wilson v.
Bull, No. CIV. 12-5078, 2014 WL 412328, at *3 (D.S.D.
Feb. 3, 2014). Ms. Rodriquez, Mr. Hunter and Ms. Garnette are
officers serving in the Oglala Sioux Tribe Corrections
Department, which is a department within the tribal
government. (Docket 1 ¶¶ 10-12 at p. 3). At the
time of the filing of the complaint, Ms. Means was the
Attorney General of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Mr. Hussman
was a judge of the Oglala Sioux Tribal Court system. (Docket
8 at p. 5). The Oglala Sioux Tribal Court is a branch of
defendants' asserted grounds for dismissal are summarized
A. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), the court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the Tribe or the Individual Tribal
Defendants. This portion of the motion is broken down into
1. OST possesses tribal sovereign immunity and is immune from
2. The doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity extends to the
claims against the Individual Tribal Defendants in their
B. Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the complaint fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. This portion of the
motion is broken down into the following:
1. OST is not a state or Territory for purposes of 42 U.S.C.
2. The Individual Tribal Defendants were not acting under
color of state law as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
3. The complaint's common law claims do not arise under
federal law, but rather tribal law; and
4. The complaint's common law claims do not meet the
diversity jurisdiction requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Dockets 8 & 10). For these reasons the defendants seek
dismissal of the complaint with prejudice. (Docket 7).
assertion of tribal “[s]overeign immunity is a
jurisdictional issue . . . .” v. Omaha Indian
Tribe, 45 F.3d 1241, 1244 (8th Cir. 1995). If the Tribe
and the Individual Tribal Defendants “possess sovereign
immunity, then the district court [has] no jurisdiction to
hear [plaintiff's claims]. Id. For this reason,
the court will first address the defendants' Rule
RULE 12(b)(1) ...