Wyoming Northern Arapaho Council Members File Suit Against Current Law Firm After Tribe Sues Former Counsel
Posted on: August 4, 2019, 11:57h.
Last updated on: August 5, 2019, 12:44h.
On Friday, two leaders of the Northern Arapaho tribe and two former management employees of the tribe’s casino filed a lawsuit in a Wyoming district court claiming the actions of the tribe’s new law firm were tantamount to a coup d’etat.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, the lawsuit was filed by Anthony Addison, Samuel Dresser, Rosella Morin, and Faith Wallowing Bull. Addison and Dresser serve on the tribe’s business council. Morin served as the former personnel manager for the Wind River Hotel and Casino, while Wallowing Bull was its chief financial officer.
They claim Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton personally selected the casino’s new CEO and his deputy. The new leaders ended up firing Morin and Wallowing Bull, both of whom are tribal citizens.
The suit also claims Lee Spoonhunter, chairman of the Northern Arapaho, used deceitful measures to exclude Addison and Dresser in council business. For example, after a motion to extend the contract of the previous casino CEO ended up in a deadlocked vote, Spoonhunter allegedly adjourned the meeting. After Addison and Dresser left, he resumed the meeting and pushed through a resolution not to extend Jim Conrad’s contract.
Other accusations within the suit include allegations of a Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton staffer pretending to be a federal official to take records. Morin claims she was fired after she forwarded a sexual harassment complaint against Spoonhunter.
Wind River is located on the eastern edge of the tribe’s reservation near Riverton, two hours due west of Casper.
Not the Only Lawsuit
This is not the only lawsuit involving the tribe and a law firm. Earlier in the week, the tribe filed suit against its former firm, Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, for overbilling, withholding funds, and failing to return tribal documents.
Both law firms deny the allegations in the respective suits against them.
According to Wyoming Public Media, Dresser said in a statement that he and Addison were “deliberately excluded” from voting on the resolution to file the suit against Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd. “They just push us aside like dogs,” he added.
The tribe has been surrounded by controversy in recent months, beyond even the legal drama.
In June, it was revealed that the tribe was apparently behind the effort to thwart the creation of a gaming commission in the state. However, tribal officials said the work was done by a maverick lobbyist without their knowledge. They then fired the lobbyist.
Mark Howell, the lobbyist in question, has said Spoonhunter approved the measures he took on behalf of the tribe. He added he would welcome an investigation into the matter by the National Indian Gaming Association, the federal body that operates within the US Department of Labor.
Tribal Meetings This Week
This week looks to be an important week for the tribe. On Monday, the business council will hold a public meeting where one of the items on the agenda is to introduce the casino’s new leadership and provide an update on matters.
However, things may come to a head Saturday, when the tribe holds its general council meeting.
Items on the agenda include a possible recall vote against Spoonhunter as chairman, and a vote to terminate the contract with Kirkpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Immediately after that, the council will discuss whether to bar Baldwin, Crocker & Rudd, former casino CEO Conrad, and former lobbyist Howell from ever again working with the tribe.
The votes will take place if a quorum of 150 members is present for the start of the meeting at 10:30 am MT.