Federal Judge Ends Legal Battle Over Jamul Indian Village Casino

After years of legal battles, a federal judge has brought closure to the longstanding dispute over the tribal casino in the Jamul Indian Village, located in San Diego County. US District Judge Andrew G. Schopler, appointed by President Joe Biden, not only dismissed the latest case against the casino but also imposed sanctions on the plaintiffs, marking an end to the protracted legal saga.

Kumeyaay Native Americans Reveal Historical Dispute in Battle for Tribal Land

The case dates back to the early 1990s when the Kumeyaay Native Americans, residing in the Jamul Indian Village, held an election regarding the construction of a casino and a hotel on their tribal land. The decision led to a series of legal challenges initiated by a group opposing the construction, which persisted over the years.

In his ruling issued on February 29, Judge Schopler emphasized the frivolous nature of the plaintiffs’ claims, citing over 20 failed lawsuits with shifting and meritless arguments, reported Courthouse News Service. Judge Schopler accused the plaintiffs of pursuing the case in bad faith, solely for harassment purposes, and ordered all attorney fees to be borne by the plaintiffs.

The core of the legal battle revolved around allegations that the construction of the casino infringed upon ancestral burial grounds, owned by the Roman Catholic Church of San Diego. The plaintiffs contended that the transfer of the cemetery plot to the Village was fraudulent, and orchestrated to evade responsibility for desecration.

Federal Judge Ends Lawsuit Against Tribal Village, Urges Plaintiffs to Cease Legal Pursuits

However, Judge Schopler dismantled these arguments, highlighting the plaintiffs’ misunderstanding of state laws and failure to prove fraudulent transfer. Moreover, he pointed out a critical legal flaw: the absence of the Village as a defendant, despite its indispensable status. As a federally recognized tribe, the Village enjoys sovereign immunity, rendering it immune to lawsuits.

Consequently, Judge Schopler dismissed the case and cautioned against further legal pursuits by the plaintiffs and their attorneys, warning of escalating financial penalties. Expressing hope for a definitive resolution, he urged the plaintiffs to accept their losses and cease litigation.

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Last year the Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation (JIVDC) expanded its Jamul Casino with a luxurious 16-story hotel boasting 200 rooms, including 52 suites, alongside extensive amenities such as a rooftop pool deck, restaurant with scenic views, retail space, meeting areas, spa, and fitness center. 

Linked by a pedestrian sky bridge, the hotel aimed to elevate the gambling experience. The expansion reflected JIVDC&#8 lodislot 217;s strategic growth plan following a substantial loan, with Chair Erica Pinto emphasizing the economic benefits for the tribal nation and local community, while casino president Mary Cheeks anticipated enhanced competitiveness in the leisure market.