United States District Court, N.D. New York
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.
Presently before the Court are: (1) the Cayuga Nation's ("CN") Motion to intervene, which comes before the Court following a Report-Recommendation filed on September 11, 2013, by the Honorable David E. Peebles, U.S. Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.1; (2) the Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Band of Mohican Indians' ("SMC") Motion to intervene; and (3) a Letter Motion on behalf of all parties seeking the Court's approval of a stipulation of dismissal that incorporates the terms of a settlement agreement. Dkt. Nos. 280 ("CN Motion"); 300 ("Report-Recommendation"); 303 ("SMC Motion); 319 ("Letter Motion"); 319-1 ("Stipulation"); 319-2 ("Settlement Agreement" or "SA"). For the following reasons, the Motions to intervene are denied, the Settlement Agreement is approved, and the case is dismissed.
II. THE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
On May 16, 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Plaintiffs the State of New York ("State"), Oneida County, and Madison County (collectively, "Counties") (together with the State, "Plaintiffs") had reached an agreement with Intervenor-Defendant the Oneida Indian Nation ("OIN") encompassing the settlement of various disputes. Report-Rec. at 3; Dkt. No. 280-2 ("CN Memorandum") at 2. Although this case is only one of several disputes covered by the Settlement Agreement, the Settlement Agreement nevertheless provides for Plaintiffs and the OIN to submit before the Court a proposed order of dismissal incorporating the Settlement Agreement. SA § VIII(C). In accordance with this provision, on December 12, 2013, the parties filed the Stipulation, along with the Settlement Agreement and the Letter Motion requesting that the Court approve the Stipulation. Stipulation; Letter Mot. The Settlement Agreement is extensive, and the Court recites only those provisions directly relevant to this Memorandum-Decision and Order.
A. Settlement of Trust Litigation
Plaintiffs commenced this action on June 6, 2008, challenging the United States Department of the Interior's ("DOI") decision to take 13, 000 acres of land into trust for the OIN pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 465. Dkt. No. 1; see also Dkt. No. 238-12 ("2008 ROD"). The OIN subsequently intervened as a defendant. Dkt. Nos. 37, 48. On September 24, 2012, the Court remanded the case to the DOI for further proceedings. Dkt. No. 276 ("September 2012 Order"). Pursuant to the September 2012 Order, the DOI filed an Amendment to the 2008 ROD on February 5, 2014. Dkt. Nos. 334, 334-1.
Under the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiffs agree to dismiss their claims in this action with prejudice. SA § VI(A)(1)(a). Plaintiffs also agree not to administratively or judicially oppose future OIN trust applications, subject to certain limitations. SA § VI(B).
B. Settlement of Tax Foreclosure Litigation
Madison and Oneida Counties each previously sought to foreclose on OIN-owned land for nonpayment of taxes. See Oneida Indian Nation v. Madison County , 665 F.3d 408, 413-14 (2d Cir. 2011). The OIN sued in federal court to enjoin the Counties from foreclosing, and extensive litigation ensued in the Northern District, the Second Circuit, and the Supreme Court. See id. The Settlement Agreement provides for the settlement of these disputes. SA § VI(A)(2)-(3). The Counties agree to undo all acts taken to foreclose on the OIN to collect property taxes. Id . § VI(A)(3). They also agree to stipulate to entries of final judgment in the district court actions before Judge Hurd, Oneida Indian Nation v. Madison County, No. 00-CV-0506 (N.D.N.Y. filed Mar. 30, 2000), and Oneida Indian Nation v. Oneida County, No. 05-CV-0945 (N.D.N.Y. filed July 27, 2005), and to withdraw their petition for a writ of certiorari filed in the Supreme Court in Madison and Oneida Counties v. Oneida Indian Nation , No. 12-604. SA § VI(A)(2). The State agrees to withdraw its amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court. SA § VI(A)(2)(a).
C. The OIN Gaming Exclusivity Provision
Although until recently the New York State Constitution prohibited casino gaming, the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2721, preempted the State's ban and allowed the OIN to operate the Turning Stone Casino in Oneida County pursuant to a compact negotiated with the State in 1993. See Town of Verona v. Cuomo, No. 13-CV-1100, 2013 WL 5839839, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Oct. 30, 2013) (Kahn, J.); Dalton v. Pataki , 835 N.E.2d 1180, 1189-92 (N.Y. 2005). The Settlement Agreement guarantees the OIN a ten-county geographic exclusivity zone, ensuring that it remains the only entity operating a casino in that region:
[T]he [OIN] shall have total exclusivity with respect to the installation and operation of Casino Gaming and Gaming Devices, by the State or any State authorized entity or person, within the following geographic area: Oneida County, Madison County, Onondaga County, Oswego County, Cayuga County, Cortland County, Chenango County, Otsego County, Herkimer County and Lewis County....
The State shall not legalize, authorize or consent to or engage in, Casino Gaming or the installation or operation of any Gaming Device within the zone of exclusivity....
SA § IV(A)-(B) ("Exclusivity Provision").
The Settlement Agreement provides that the Court will reserve and retain exclusive jurisdiction to enforce it. SA § VII(E). The OIN and the State waive all immunity from suit for the limited purpose of enforcement of the Settlement Agreement. SA § VII(A). Although the Settlement Agreement provides for arbitration of alleged disputes, "material breaches" - which are defined to include breaches of the Exclusivity Provision and the trust and tax litigation provisions discussed supra - can be resolved only through judicial enforcement by the Court. SA §§ II(I), VII(C)-(D).
III. MOTION TO INTERVENE STANDARD
A. Intervention as of Right
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) allows a proposed intervenor to intervene as of right. The proposed intervenor must: "(1) file a timely motion; (2) show an interest in the litigation; (3) show that its interest may be impaired by the disposition of the action; and (4) show that its interest is not adequately protected by the parties to the action." D'Amato v. Deutsche Bank , 236 F.3d 78, 84 (2d Cir. 2001). "Denial of the motion to intervene is proper if any of these requirements is not met." Id.
B. Permissive Intervention
"[O]n timely motion, the court may permit anyone to intervene who... has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact." FED. R. CIV. P. 24(b)(1)(B). "The district court has broad discretion to deny an applicant's motion for intervention under Rule 24(b)(2)." Catanzano ex rel. Catanzano v. Wing , 103 F.3d 223, 234 (2d Cir. 1996). When deciding whether to exercise that discretion in favor of allowing intervention, "a court must examine whether intervention will prejudice the parties to the action or cause undue delay." Envirco Corp. v. Clestra Cleanroom, Inc., No. 98-CV-0120, 2002 WL 31115664, at *4 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 24, 2002) (citing D'Amato , 236 F.3d at 84). The Court may also consider "the nature and extent of the intervenors' interests, the degree to which those interests are adequately represented by other parties, and whether parties seeking intervention will significantly contribute to full development of the underlying factual issues in the suit and to the just and equitable adjudication of the legal questions presented." H.L. Hayden Co. of N.Y. v. Siemens Med. Sys., Inc. , 797 F.2d 85, 89 (2d Cir. 1986) (internal quotation marks omitted).
IV. THE CAYUGA NATION'S MOTION TO INTERVENE
The CN is a federally recognized Indian nation. Indian Entities Recognized, 78 Fed. Reg. 26384-02 (May 6, 2013). It maintains a reservation in New York State, with more than half the reservation's land located in Cayuga County and the remainder in Seneca County. Dkt. No. 280-3 ("Halftown Declaration") ¶ 2. The CN has applied to the have some of its reservation land, including land within Cayuga County, taken into trust by the DOI. Id . ¶ 3.
1. Motion to Intervene
Following announcement of the proposed Settlement Agreement, the CN sought to intervene in this action for the limited purpose of objecting to the Settlement Agreement. See CN Mot. Specifically, the CN argues that because the Exclusivity Provision's geographic exclusivity zone includes Cayuga County, which contains the majority of the CN's reservation land, approval of the Settlement Agreement will interfere with the CN's ability to conduct Class III gaming on its reservation land under IGRA. CN Mem. at 6-7.
Plaintiffs, the OIN, and the United States opposed the CN's Motion. Dkt Nos. 288, 289, 290. On September 11, 2013, Judge Peebles issued a Report-Recommendation finding that the CN should be permitted to intervene for the sole purpose of lodging objections to the Settlement Agreement. Report-Rec. at 16-27. Plaintiffs and the OIN filed Objections to the Report-Recommendation, and the ...