S.C. Code § 27-16-80

Code of Laws of South Carolina 1976

Title 27. Property and Conveyances

Chapter 16. The Catawba Indian Claims Settlement Act


§ 27-16-80. Tribal courts - original and appellate civil; full faith and credit; waiver of jurisdiction; appeal to non-Tribal courts; claims and suits against Tribe; limited sovereign immunity; liability insurance; partial applicability of Tort Claims Act; satisfaction of judgments.


(A) The Tribe may provide in its constitution for a Tribal Court having civil jurisdiction which may extend up to, but not exceed, the extent provided in this chapter and the federal implementing legislation. The Tribe may have a court of original jurisdiction, as well as an appellate court.


(1) With respect to actions on contracts, the Tribal Court may be vested with jurisdiction over an action on a contract:


(a) to which the Tribe or a member of the Tribe is a party, which expressly provides in writing that the Tribal Court has concurrent or exclusive jurisdiction.


(b) between the Tribe or a member of the Tribe and other parties or their agents who are physically present on the Reservation when the contract is made, and which is to be performed in part on the Reservation so long as the contract does not expressly exclude jurisdiction of the Tribal Court. For purposes of this section, the delivery of goods or the solicitation of business on the Reservation does not constitute part performance sufficient to confer jurisdiction.


(c) to which the Tribe or a member of the Tribe is a party where more than fifty percent of the services to be rendered are performed on the Reservation, so long as the contract does not expressly exclude jurisdiction of the Tribal Court.


(2) With respect to actions in tort, the Tribal Court may be vested with jurisdiction over an action arising out of:


(a) an intentional tort, as defined by South Carolina law, committed on the Reservation, in which recovery is sought for bodily injuries or damages to tangible property located on the Reservation.


(b) negligent tortious conduct occurring on the Reservation or conduct occurring on the Reservation for which strict liability may be imposed, excluding, however, accidents occurring within the right-of-way limits of a highway, road, or other public easement owned or maintained by the State or its subdivisions or by the United States, which abuts or crosses the Reservation. However, the action in tort involving a nonmember of the Tribe as defendant may be removed to a state or federal court of appropriate jurisdiction if the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional limits then applicable to magistrate's court in South Carolina.


(3) The Tribal Court may be vested with exclusive jurisdiction over internal matters of the Tribe.


(4) The Tribal Court also may be vested with jurisdiction over domestic relations where both spouses to the marriage are members of the Tribe and both reside on the Reservation or last resided together on the Reservation before the separation leading to their divorce.


(5) The Tribal Court also may be vested with jurisdiction to enforce against a business located on the Reservation and members or nonmembers residing on the Reservation, tribal civil regulations regulating conduct on the Reservation enacted pursuant to Section 10.2 or 17 of the Settlement Agreement. The entity or person is charged with notice of the Tribe's regulations governing conduct on the Reservation and is subject to the enforcement of the regulations in the Tribal Court unless the Tribe specifically has exempted the entity or person from any or all regulation or enforcement in Tribal Court.


(B) The original jurisdiction of the Tribal Court over the matters set forth in subsections (A)(1)(b), (A)(1)(c), (A)(2), and (A)(4) must be concurrent with the jurisdiction of the Court of Common Pleas of South Carolina, the Family Court, and the United States District Court for South Carolina. The original jurisdiction of the Tribal Court over the matters set forth in subsection (A)(1)(a) must be concurrent or exclusive depending upon the agreement of the parties. The original jurisdiction of the Tribal Court over matters set forth in subsection (A)(3) must be exclusive. The original jurisdiction of the Tribal Court over matters set forth in subsection (A)(5) must be exclusive unless the Tribe has waived exclusive jurisdiction as to any person or entity. As to all sections referred to in this subsection, jurisdiction over appeals, if any, must be governed by subsection (D).


(C) The Tribe may waive Tribal Court jurisdiction or the application of tribal laws with respect to a person or firm residing, doing business, or otherwise entering upon the Reservation or contracting with the Tribe. A member of the Tribe also may waive Tribal Court jurisdiction or specify in the contract the law of an appropriate jurisdiction to govern a commercial transaction or the interpretation of a contract to which the member is a party.


(D)(1) All final judgments entered in actions tried in Tribal Court are subject to an appeal to the Family Court, the Court of Common Pleas, or the United States District Court, depending upon whether that court would have had jurisdiction over the appealed matter had it been commenced in that court, if all of the following circumstances exist:


(a) A party to the suit is not a member of the Tribe;


(b) The amount in controversy or the cost of complying with an equitable order or decree exceeds the jurisdictional limits then applicable in the magistrates' courts of South Carolina;


(c) The subject matter of the suit does not fall within subsection (A)(1)(a) if jurisdiction is exclusive or subsection (A)(3) or (A)(5). The Tribe may enlarge the right of appeal to include other subject matters and members of the Tribe, subject to rules and procedures the applicable court and relevant state laws may provide.


(2) In an appeal, the court, as appropriate, may:


(a) enter judgment affirming the Tribal Court;


(b) dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction of the Tribal Court, but only in those cases where the Tribal Court first has addressed the issue of its jurisdiction;


(c) reverse or remand the case for retrial or reconsideration in Tribal Court; or


(d) grant a trial de novo in its court.


(3) In an appeal, a trial, or a trial de novo, the reviewing court shall apply any regulation enacted pursuant to tribal authority.


(E)(1) In cases subject to subsection (A)(2) or (D), all final judgments of the Tribal Court must be given full faith and credit in the state court with appropriate jurisdiction, and the Tribal Court shall grant full faith and credit to state court final judgments.


(2) In those cases which are not subject to subsection (A)(2) or (D), the judgment must be reviewed by the state court in the manner provided in the Uniform Arbitration Act, Section 15-48-10 et. seq. or, if appropriate, by the federal court in the manner provided in the United States Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1 et. seq.


(F)(1) The Tribe may sue or be sued, in a court of competent jurisdiction. However, the Tribe enjoys sovereign immunity including damage limits and, except as provided in this subsection, immunity from seizure, execution, or encumbrance of properties, to the same extent as the political subdivisions of the State as provided in the South Carolina Tort Claims Act, Chapter 78 of Title 15. With respect to nonconsumer liability based on contract, however, the Tribe, in a written contract, may provide that it is immune from suit on that contract as if there had been no waiver of sovereign immunity.


(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, the Tribe is subject to suit as provided in Section 27-16-120(B).


(3) The Tribe shall procure and maintain liability insurance with the same coverage and limits as required of political subdivisions of the State by Section 15-78-140(b).


(4) An action alleging tortious conduct by an employee of the Tribe acting within the scope of his duties which seeks money damages against the Tribe must name only the Tribe as a party defendant.


(5) A settlement or judgment in an action or a settlement of a claim filed with the Tribe constitutes a complete bar to further action by the claimant against the Tribe by reason of the same occurrence.


(6) A claimant may file a verified claim for damages with the Tribe before filing suit but is not required to file the claim as a prerequisite to filing suit.


(a) The claim must set forth the circumstances which brought about the loss, the extent of the loss, the time and the place the loss occurred, the names of all witnesses, if known, and the amount of the loss sustained.


(b) The Tribe shall designate an employee or office to accept the filing of claims. Filing may be accomplished by receipt by the Tribe's designee of certified mailing of the claims or by compliance with the provisions of law relating to service of process.


(c) If filed, the claim must be received within one year after the loss was or should have been discovered.


(d) The Tribe has one hundred eighty days from the date of the filing of the claim in which to determine whether the claim is allowed or disallowed. Failure to notify the claimant of action upon the claim within one hundred eighty days after the filing of the claim is considered a disallowance of the claim.


(e) While the filing of the claim is not required as a prerequisite to suit, if a claimant files a claim, he may not institute an action until after the occurrence of the earliest of one of the following three events:


(i) passage of one hundred eighty days from the filing of the claim with the Tribe;


(ii) Tribe's disallowance of the claim;


(iii) Tribe's rejection of a settlement offer.


(7) The provisions of the following sections of the South Carolina Tort Claims Act apply to the Tribe to the same extent as they apply to the State and its political subdivisions:


(a) Section 15-78-100(c), joint tortfeasors;


(b) Section 15-78-110, statute of limitations;


(c) Section 15-78-170, survival actions;


(d) Section 15-78-190, applicability of uninsured or underinsured defendant insurance.


(8) If the Tribe's insurance coverage is inadequate or unavailable to satisfy a judgment within the limits of the Tort Claims Act, neither the judgment nor any other process may be levied upon the corpus or principal of the Tribal Trust Funds or upon property held in trust for the Tribe by the United States. However, the Tribe or the Secretary of Interior shall honor valid orders of a federal or state court which enters money judgments for causes of action against the Tribe arising after the effective date of this chapter, by making an assignment to the judgment creditor of the right to receive income out of the next quarterly payment or payments of income from the Tribal Trust Funds.


(G) The Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 U.S.C. Section 1901 et seq., applies to Catawba Indian Children as set forth in the federal implementing legislation.


(H) If no Tribal Court is established by the Tribe, the State shall exercise jurisdiction over all civil and criminal causes arising out of acts and transactions occurring on the Reservation or involving members of the Tribe. If the Tribe does establish a Tribal Court pursuant to Section 27-16-70(B) or 27-16-80(A), Section 27-16-70(B)(2) or 27-16-80 (B) governs whether jurisdiction is exclusive or concurrent.

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