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Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Judicial Codes

Approved: 1998; Last amended: 2004

Resolution 2000 - 37

TITLE IX - CIVIL PROCEDURE


Section 1. Law Applicable in Civil Actions. In all civil actions the Coushatta Court shall apply applicable laws of the United States and authorized regulations of the Secretary of the Interior and ordinances, customs and usages of the Tribe. Where doubt arises as to customs and usages of the Tribe, the Court may request the advice of persons generally recognized in the community as being familiar with such customs and usages. Any matter not covered by applicable Federal law and regulations or by ordinances, customs and usages of the Tribe may be decided by the Court according to the laws of the State of Louisiana, if it considers that same consistent with Coushatta custom.


Section 2. Commencement of Civil Action.

Section 2.1. A civil action shall be commenced in the Coushatta Court by the filing of a statement of claim which shall be short and in ordinary language. The plaintiff or his agent shall verify the statement of claim by oath or affirmation and shall sign the statement of claim.

Section 2.2. At the request of the plaintiff, the Clerk shall prepare the statement of claim and other papers required to be filed in a civil action, but his services are not available to a corporation, partnership, association or public body in the preparation of the statement or other papers.

Section 2.3. A copy of the statement of claim and verification shall be made a part of the notice to be served upon the defendant named therein. Service shall be made by a Police Officer or by registered mail or certified mail, return receipt requested, or by a person not a party to or otherwise interested in the action, especially appointed by the judge for that purpose.

Section 2.4. When notice is to be served by registered mail or by certified mail, the Clerk shall enclose a copy of the statement of claim, verification, and notice in an envelope addressed to the defendant, prepay the postage with fluids obtained from the plaintiff and mail the papers forthwith, noting on the Court records the day and hour of mailing. When the receipt is returned, the Clerk shall attach it to the original statement of claim, and it constitutes prima facie evidence of service upon defendant.

Section 2.5. When notice is served by a private individual, he shall make proof of service by affidavit before the Clerk, showing the time and place of service.

Section 2.6. When service is made by a Police Officer, or by registered or certified mail, the actual cost of service is taxable to the losing party as costs. When notice is served by an individual, the cost of service, if any, is not taxable as costs.

Section 2.7. The statement of claim, verification, and notice shall be substantially in the following form:


                                  
Plaintiff
THE COUSHATTA COURT
COUSHATTA TRIBE OF INDIANS OF LOUISIANA
POST OFFICE BOX 818
ELTON, LOUISIANA
 
                                  
Address
vs..
  No.                                       
                                  
Defendant
   

STATEMENT OF CLAIM

(Here, the plaintiff, or, at his request, the Clerk, will insert a statement of the plaintiffs claim and the original, to be filed with the Clerk, may be verified by the plaintiff or his agent as follows)

STATE OF LOUISIANA 55:  
                                        , being first duly sworn on oath says the foregoing is a just and true statement of the amount owing by defendant to the plaintiff, (or "of the claim made by the plaintiff upon the defendant") exclusive of any set-off or counter claim or just grounds of defense.
                                                    
Plaintiff (or Agent)
Subscribed and sworn to before me this                     day of                              , 19             .
                                                    
NOTARY PUBLIC
 
NOTICE
 

To:

                            
Defendant
                            
Home address
                            
Business address

   

You are hereby notified that (plaintiff) has made a claim and is requesting judgment against you in the sum of                                              dollars ($                   ) (insert other relief requested, if any), as shown in the foregoing statement. The Coushatta Court will hold a hearing upon this claim on                     at                    m. in the Coushatta Courthouse, Coushatta Reservation, Louisiana.

You are required to be present at the hearing in order to avoid a judgment by default.
If you have witnesses, books, receipts or other papers bearing on this claim, you should bring them with you at the time of the hearing.
If you wish to have witnesses summoned, see the Clerk at once for assistance.
If you admit the claim, but desire additional time to pay, you must come to the hearing in person and state the circumstances to the Court.
You may come with or without an attorney.

                                                   
Clerk of the Coushatta Court


Section 2.8. The foregoing verification entitles the plaintiff to a judgment by default, without further proof, upon failure of defendant to appear, if the claim of the plaintiff is for a liquidated amount less than $                        . If the amount is unliquidated or in excess of $                        , the plaintiff shall be required to present proof of his claim.


Section 2.9. The Clerk shall furnish the plaintiff with a notice of the day and hour set for the hearing, not less than 30 nor more than 45 days from the filing of the civil action.


Section 3. Fees, Costs, and Waiver. The fee for issuing summons and copies, trial judgment and satisfaction in a civil action in the Coushatta Court shall be not more than $10.00. Other fees shall be as the Court prescribes. The Judge may waive the prepayment of costs or the payment of costs accruing during the action upon the sworn statement of the plaintiff or other satisfactory evidence of his inability to pay the costs. When costs are so waived, the Clerk shall enter "costs waived" or "prepayment of costs waived" in the Court records. If a party fails to pay accrued costs, though able to do so, the judge may deny him the right to file a new claim in the Court while the costs remain unpaid and deny him the right to proceed further in any claim pending in the Court.


Section 4. Counterclaim or set-off. If the defendant in a civil action asserts a counterclaim or set-off, the judge may require a formal statement of counterclaim or set-off to be filed or may waive the requirement. If the plaintiff requires time to prepare his defense against the counterclaim or set-off, the judge may continue the case for a reasonable period for that purpose.


Section 5. Trial


Section 5.1. On the return day specified as provided in Section 2.9, or at such later time as the judge sets, the action shall go to trial. Immediately prior to trial, the judge shall make an earnest effort to settle the dispute by conciliation. If he fails to persuade the parties to settle the dispute without a trial, he shall proceed with the hearing on the merits as provided in Section 5.2.


Section 5.2. The parties and the witnesses shall be sworn. The judge shall conduct the trial in such manner as to do substantial justice between the parties according to applicable law and the customs and usages of the Tribe, and is not bound by rules of practice, procedure, pleading, or evidence, except for rules related to privileged communications.


Section 5.3. If the defendant fails to appear, judgment shall be entered for the plaintiff by default as provided in Section 2.8 or on the presentation of proof by the plaintiff alone. If the plaintiff fails to appear, the action may be dismissed for want of prosecution or the defendant may proceed to a trial on the merits or the case may be continued or returned to the files for further proceedings at a later date, as the judge may direct in the interest of justice. If both parties fail to appear, the judge may return the case to the files or order the action dismissed for want of prosecution or make any other just and proper disposition thereof as justice requires.


Section 5.4. Service of Subpoena: A subpoena may be served in one of the following ways:

1 . Via certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.

2. Via a recognized delivery service such as but not limited to Federal Express, UPS, DHL where delivery is verified by signature.

3. By a Police Officer or by a person not a party to or otherwise interested in the action, especially appointed by the judge for that purpose.


Section 6. Judgment.

Section 6.1 In all civil actions for money damages, any money damages awarded for any claims shall be limited to manifest physical injury or disease recognized as such by the American Medical Association, or a manifest mental disease recognized as such by the American Psychiatric Association, which are the direct result of the tort, or breach of contract or quasi contract of which the injured party complains, and shall be limited to not more than $250,000.00 for any one person for one event, and to $500,000.00 for damages that are incurred or are claimed as a result of the same operative facts causing alleged damages by more than one person. In all events the aggregate limit of liability of the Tribe, including the Tribal Council and the individual members of the Tribal Council together shall not exceed $500,000.00 for all damages sought by all persons claimed to be injured as a result of one event or a series of events which allegedly caused damage and arose out of the same operative facts.

Exemplary damages, punitive damages, or damages due to loss of consortium, service and society, consequential damages, liability for damages caused by injury to another, and pain and suffering, shall not be included as damages and shall not be awarded.

Damages shall not include costs for future medical treatment, services or surveillance, or procedures of any kind unless such treatment, services surveillance or procedures are directly related to a manifest physical injury or disease recognized by the American Medical Association, or a manifest mental disease recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disease.

Attorney's fees and court cost shall not be included in, or awarded as damages.

All claims against the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Tribal Council of the Coushatta of Louisiana, or against the individual members of the Tribal Council either in their individual or official capacities shall prescribe one year from the date of the event, or the first day of a series of events, that caused the alleged damages, whether such damage is known or unknown at that time. The prescriptive period is only interrupted by the timely filing of a claim or action in the Tribal Court of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.

[Revised by Resolution No. 2001-36; enacted September 11, 2001; effective September 11, 2001.]

Section 6.2. When judgment for money damages is to be rendered in a civil action and the party against whom it is to be rendered requests it, the judge shall inquire fully into his earnings and financial status and may stay the entry of judgment, and stay execution, except in cases involving wage claims, and order partial payments in such amounts, over such periods, and upon such terms, as seems just in the circumstances and will assure a definite and steady reduction in the judgment until it is completely satisfied. Upon a showing that the party has failed to meet an installment payment without just excuse, the stay of execution shall be vacated.

Section 6.3. When a stay of execution has not been ordered or when a stay of execution has been vacated, a party in whose favor a judgment has been entered may avail himself of all remedies provided for in Section 11.


Section 7. Judgment for Wages. When a judgment rendered in a civil action is founded in whole or in part on a claim for wages for personal services, the judge shall, upon motion of the party obtaining judgment, order the appearance of the party against whom the judgment has been entered, but not more often than once each week for four weeks, for oral examination under oath as to his financial status and his ability to pay the judgment, and the judge shall make such other orders as seems just and proper to cause the payment of the judgment upon reasonable terms.


Section 8. Award of Costs. In civil actions, the award of costs is in the discretion of the judge, who may include therein the reasonable cost of bonds and undertakings and other reasonable expenses of either party incidental to the action.


Section 9. Payment of Judgments from Individual Indian Moneys. When the Court shall have ordered payment of money damages and the losing party refuses to make payment as provided by the Court and has sufficient moneys in his Individual Indian Monies account to pay all or part of the judgment, the disbursing agent in control of such account shall pay over to the injured party the amount of the judgment or such lesser amount as may be held to the credit of the party. A judgment shall be considered a lawful debt in all proceedings to distribute an Indian decedent's estate.


Section 10. Full Faith and Credit. Full faith and credit shall be given by the Coushatta Court in civil actions to the judgments of Federal courts and to any State or tribal courts which are courts of record and which accord, pursuant to formal agreement or otherwise, full faith and credit to the judgments of the Coushatta Court.

See also: Resolution 2000-04 - 2/29/00 - Title 9, Section 10 - Full, Faith and Credit


Section 11. Enforcement of Judgments. The Court may enforce judgments in civil actions by issuance of a writ of execution to a Police Officer against any personal property of the losing party located within the territorial jurisdiction of the Coushatta Tribe, returnable not less than 10 days after the date of issuance. No judgment shall be enforceable more than five days from the date thereof unless renewed by order of the Court.


Section 12. Limitation of Actions. The Court shall have no jurisdiction over a claim when a statement of claim is filed more than one year after the claim arose.

[Revised by Resolution No. 2000-37; enacted September 26, 2000; effective September 26, 2000.]


Section 13. "Long-Arm" Section. Any person subject to the jurisdiction of the Coushatta Court may be served outside the territorial jurisdiction of the Coushatta Tribe in the manner provided above with the same force and effect as if service had been made within the territorial jurisdiction of the Coushatta Tribe, if such person is a member of the Tribe or resides or does business within the territorial jurisdiction of the Coushatta Tribe.


RESOLUTION No. 2001 - 36


Re: A RESOLUTION TO AMEND TITLE IX, SECTION 6.1, TO PROVIDE FOR A CAP ON DAMAGES AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE TYPES OF JUDGMENTS WHICH MAY BE AWARDED

WHEREAS, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is a sovereign Indian Nation and recognized as such by the United States of America, and

WHEREAS, the Tribe exercises all the power and authority of a sovereign nation that has not been specifically limited by Congress; and

WHEREAS, the Tribe is empowered by its sovereign status to exercise its Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers; and

WHEREAS, the Coushatta Tribal Council is the duly elected governing body of the Tribe; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the Tribal Council has made a compact with the State of Louisiana to provide for the economic well-being of the Tribe by casino gambling; and

WHEREAS, the Tribal State Compact requires that the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana adopt reasonable procedures for the disposition of tort claims; and

WHEREAS, the Tribal Council notes that the activities of the Tribe, tribal members and nonmembers engaging in commercial transactions with the Tribe and within tribal jurisdiction warranted the previous enactment of Judicial Codes on July 16, 1998 to govern the activities within the tribe's jurisdictional territory and the creation of a Coushatta Tribal Court to settle disputes arising within the tribe's jurisdictional territory.

WHEREAS, the Tribal Council is now desirous of amending Title IX, Section 6.1 to provide for a maximum award of damages in any case and to provide for the types of judgments which may be awarded.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Title IX, Section 6.1 is amended to provide, as follows:

Section 6.1 In all civil actions for money damages, any money damages awarded for any claims shall be limited to manifest physical injury or disease recognized as such by the American Medical Association, or a manifest mental disease recognized as such by the American Psychiatric Association, which are the direct result of the tort, or breach of contract or quasi contract of which the injured party complains, and shall be limited to not more than $250,000.00 for any one person for one event, and to $500,000.00 for damages that are incurred or are claimed as a result of the same operative facts causing alleged damages by more than one person. In all events the aggregate limit of liability of the Tribe, including the Tribal Council and the individual members of the Tribal Council together shall not exceed $500,000.00 for all damages sought by all persons claimed to be injured as a result of one event or a series of events which allegedly caused damage and arose out of the same operative facts.

Exemplary damages, punitive damages, or damages due to loss of consortium, service and society, consequential damages, liability for damages caused by injury to another, and pain and suffering, shall not be included as damages and shall not be awarded.

Damages shall not include costs for future medical treatment, services or surveillance, or procedures of any kind unless such treatment, services surveillance or procedures are directly related to a manifest physical injury or disease recognized by the American Medical Association, or a manifest mental disease recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disease.

Attorney's fees and court cost shall not be included in, or awarded as damages.

All claims against the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, the Tribal Council of the Coushatta of Louisiana, or against the individual members of the Tribal Council either in their individual or official capacities shall prescribe one year from the date of the event, or the first day of a series of events, that caused the alleged damages, whether such damage is known or unknown at that time. The prescriptive period is only interrupted by the timely filing of a claim or action in the Tribal Court of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.


CERTIFICATION

This resolution was duly acted upon by the following council members at a meeting held on September 11, 2001, with a quorum present.

                            /s/                            
LOVELIN PONCHO, Chairman

                            /s/                            
WILLIAM WORFEL, Vice Chairman

                            /s/                            
BERTNEY LANGLEY, Secretary/Treasurer
                            /s/                            
LEONARD BATTISE
                            /s/                            
HAROLD JOHN

 



RESOLUTION No. 2000 - 37


Re: A RESOLUTION TO AMEND "TITLE IX, SECTION 12. LIMITATION OF ACTIONS, " TO PROVIDE THAT A STATEMENT OF CLAIM MUST BE FILED WITHIN ONE (1) YEAR AFTER THE CLAIM AROSE.

WHEREAS, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is a sovereign Indian Nation and recognized as such by the United States of America, and

WHEREAS, the Tribe exercises all the power and authority of a sovereign nation that has not been specifically limited by Congress; and

WHEREAS, the Tribe is empowered by its sovereign status to exercise its Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers; and

WHEREAS, the Coushatta Tribal Council is the duly elected governing body of the Tribe; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the Tribal Council has made a compact with the State of Louisiana to provide for the economic well-being of the Tribe by casino gambling, and

WHEREAS, the Tribal State Compact requires that the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana adopt reasonable procedures for the disposition of tort claims; and

WHEREAS, the Tribal Council notes that the activities of the Tribe, tribal members and nonmembers engaging in commercial transactions with the Tribe and within tribal jurisdiction warranted the previous enactment of Judicial Codes on July 16, 1998 to govern the activities within the tribe's jurisdictional territory and the creation of Coushatta Tribal Court to settle disputes arising within the tribe's jurisdictional territory

WHEREAS, the Tribal Council now recognizes that more than two (2) years have passed since the initial enactment of "Title IX, Section 12 Limitation of Actions," providing for the limitation of actions to two years after the claim arose and the Tribal Council is now desirous of amending the limitation of actions to one (1) year after the claim arose, effective upon signing of this Resolution, for all claims arising after the date of the Resolution;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Title IX, Section 12, entitled "Limitation of Actions," be and it is hereby amended to read as follows.

"Section 12. Limitation of Actions. The Court shall have no jurisdiction over a claim when a statement of claim is filed more than one year after the claim arose."


CERTIFICATION

This resolution was duly acted upon by the following council members at a meeting held on September 26, 2000, with a quorum present.

                            /s/                            
LOVELIN PONCHO, Chairman

                            /s/                            
HORACE WILLIAMS, Vice Chairman

                            /s/                            
BERTNEY LANGLEY, Secretary
                            /s/                            
LEONARD BATTISE
                                                            
WILLIAM WORFEL

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