Case Summary Citation

Big Horn County Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Big Man, No. 1:17-CV- 00065, 2018 WL 4603276, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164387 (D. Mont. Sept. 24, 2018).


The tribal exhaustion doctrine requires that parties first exhaust available tribal court remedies before challenging tribal jurisdiction in federal court. Exactly what constitutes an exhaustion of tribal court remedies, however, remains riddled with nuance. In Big Horn County Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. Big Man, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana rejected a U.S. magistrate judge’s recommendation to remand a case to tribal court to further develop the factual record. Instead, the district court relied on federal circuit court precedent in holding that exhaustion had occurred when the tribal appellate court expressly ruled on the case’s jurisdiction question, although its merits and factual determinations remained unresolved.



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