Gila River Indian Community, a federally recognized Indian tribe; Gila River Health Care Corporation, a wholly owned and subordinate entity of the Gila River Indian Community, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
United States Department of Veterans Affairs; Robert A. Mcdonald, Former Secretary, United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Defendants-Appellees.
and Submitted April 11, 2018 San Francisco, California
from the United States District Court for the District of
Arizona D.C. No. 2:16-cv-00772-ROS Roslyn O. Silver, Senior
District Judge, Presiding
L. Murphy (argued) and Linus Everling, Gila River Indian
Community, Sacaton, Arizona; Robert R. Yoder, Yoder &
Langford P.C., Scottsdale, Arizona; for
Myron (argued) and Charles W. Scarborough, Appellate Staff;
Elizabeth A. Strange, Acting United States Attorney; Chad A.
Readler, Acting Assistant Attorney General; Civil Division,
United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.; for
Before: Andrew J. Kleinfeld, William A. Fletcher, and Raymond
C. Fisher, Circuit Judges.
Matter Jurisdiction / Veterans / Tribal Matters
panel affirmed the district court's Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1)
dismissal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction of Gila
River Indian Community and Gila River Health Care
Corporation's lawsuit against the Department of Veterans
Affairs for failing to reimburse the Community for the care
it provides to veterans at tribal facilities.
panel held that § 511(a) of the Veterans' Judicial
Review Act, 38 U.S.C. § 511(a), barred the
Community's lawsuit. The Community sought review of the
VA's determination that two provisions of the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act - 25 U.S.C. §§
1623(b) and 1645(c) - did not require the VA to reimburse the
Community absent a sharing agreement. The panel held that
this determination fell under the jurisdictional bar of
§ 511(a) because it was plainly a question of law that
affected the provision of benefits by the Secretary of the VA
to veterans, and the relief requested could clearly affect
the provision of benefits.
panel held that the presumption in Montana v. Blackfeet
Tribe of Indians, 471 U.S. 759, 766 (1985) (holding that
statutes are to be construed liberally in favor of the
Indians), did not apply to § 511(a) because the
Blackfeet Tribe presumption only applied to federal
statutes that were passed for the benefit of Indian tribes.
The panel also held the Community's argument that the
district court had jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1362
was waived because the Community did not make this argument
in the district court.
FLETCHER, Circuit Judge
Gila River Indian Community and Gila River Health Care
Corporation (collectively, "the Community") sued
the Department of Veterans Affairs ("the VA") for
failing to reimburse the Community for the care it provides
to veterans at tribal facilities. The Community argues that
two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act require the VA to reimburse it even absent an agreement
defining the terms of reimbursement. The district court
dismissed the Community's lawsuit after determining that
the Veterans' Judicial Review Act, 38 U.S.C. §
511(a), deprived it of jurisdiction over the Community's
claims. We have appellate jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1291. We affirm.
Gila River Indian Community is a federally recognized
American Indian tribe that occupies the Gila River