The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, well known for defrauding and stealing from some 25% of its membership, asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit filed against the tribe by the city of Temecula, saying the court does not have jurisdiction in the case.
"The city (cannot) establish this court's jurisdiction because the tribe possesses sovereign immunity," attorneys for the tribe wrote in court papers filed Tuesday.
Temecula City Attorney Peter Thorson said Friday he had expected the request.
"Jurisdiction and sovereignty are always issues in any lawsuit filed against tribes," Thorson said. "... I'm confident that case law and the tribal-state compact will support the city's position in the lawsuit."
Attorneys for the tribe said in court papers the only waiver to a tribe's sovereignty in the compact is limited to actions between a tribe the state, not any other entity or individual person.
Temecula sued the tribe over a dispute that centers on a March agreement with the tribe.
The city contends the pact called on the tribe to pay the city at least $2 million annually to cover the city's casino-related expenses, such as police service.
The city expected the $2 million in June. But the tribe said the pact was not final until talks with Riverside County concluded. Pechanga is seven months past due in payment to the City of Temecula, and now moving on 6 years of per capita theft from one family, and 5 years from another, that total theft is
The city also contends that under the tribal-state compact, Pechanga must prepare an environmental impact report to support the expansion of its gaming operation.
Attorneys for the tribe wrote the expansion amounted to installation of slot machines, not construction or expansion projects, and does not require the study.
They also said the machines were added before a 2008 amendment to the compact that requires an environmental study before "commencement of a project."
A hearing on the lawsuit dismissal request is scheduled for March 7 in federal court in Los Angeles.