Boston, MA. A federal judge has ruled in favor of Massachusetts residents who oppose the construction of a “billion dollar plus” tribal casino in their community.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had intended to build a Las Vegas–style casino resort in Taunton, Massachusetts. However, U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young ruled on July 28 that the U.S. Department of Interior should not have taken land into trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, removing the legal foundation for the tribal casino development.
The residents of Taunton challenged the decision by the secretary of the Department of Interior claiming the Mashpees do not qualify as “Indian” under the definitions section of the Indian Reorganization Act. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed the secretary lacked authority to acquire land in trust for the Mashpees.
The ruling grants summary judgment and declaratory judgment to the Massachusetts residents. Nixon Peabody’s legal team represented the residents, and was led by partner David Tennant, and associates Matthew Frankel and Brian Jacek.
“We are pleased with this ruling and believe Judge Young’s analysis is right on point,” said David Tennant. “We’re also confident this is how the First Circuit would handle this if presented with an appeal.”