Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. v. Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit Docket Nos. 14-2150, 14-2287 Opinion Date: November 24, 2015
In this case, the most recent appeal in a series of suits concerning the sale of bonds by a corporation (the “Corporation”) owned by the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (collectively, the “Tribal Entities”), the 7th Circuit clarifies the standards applicable to injunctions as well as review of lower-Court decisions and, finally, jurisdiction.
The Corporation was chartered under tribal law to own and operate the Lake of the Torches Resort Casino (the “Casino”) on tribal lands in northern Wisconsin. The Casino is operated under tribal-state compact with the State of Wisconsin.
In 2007 the Tribe decided to diversify its operations by investing in a project to build a riverboat casino, hotel, and bed and breakfast in Natchez, Mississippi. To secure funding for the investment and refinance some existing debt, the Corporation issued taxable gaming revenue bonds in January 2008. Godfrey, as counsel to the Corporation and bond counsel for the transaction, issued 2 opinion letters as to the meaning of several bond-related documents and the legality of the transaction.
The 2008 bond issue did not go as planned, and Wells Fargo filed suit. In that action, Wells Fargo alleged that the Corporation breached a bond indenture and stated that, as trustee for the bondholders, it wanted a receiver appointed. In that case, the 7th Circuit had held that a bond indenture constituted an “unapproved management contract” under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (“IGRA”) and was therefore void.