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Thursday, September 19, 2019

FCC named in suit by South Dakota Native American tribe over fees

By Noddy A. Fernandez | May 3, 2018

ABERDEEN, N.D. (Legal Newsline) – A federally recognized sovereign Native American tribe has filed a suit against the Federal Communications Commission and individuals regarding fees to the telecommunications industry.

Crow Creek Tribe of South Dakota, and all those tribes similarly situated, filed a complaint on April 23 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota, Northern Division against the Federal Communications Commission; Chairman Ajit Pai; Commissioner Michael O' Riley, et al. citing the National Historic Preservation Act (NPHA).

"There exist questions of law and fact common to the class, namely whether Indian tribes can charge review fees to assist the telecommunications industry and the federal defendants to comply with federal law," the complaint states.

The plaintiff alleges that the defendants have violated U.S. law.

"The determination that plaintiff Indian tribe as class representative cannot review wireless small cell deployment, nor charge 'upfront review fees' or any 'fees' regarding Section 106 of wireless infrastructure deployments or other deployments, constitutes a charge of policy by the federal defendants, as the federal defendants have allowed upfront review fees charged by the plaintiff Indian tribe and other Indian tribes for the last 12 to 14 years without objection," the complaint states. 

The plaintiff alleges the defendants failed their duty to be reasonable and to act in good faith in compliance with their obligations pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act and NHPA and failed to follow federal law by hindering the plaintiff from charging reasonable review and survey fees from each applicant.

The plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and permanent injunction, award of reasonable attorney's fees, costs and disbursements. It is represented by Terry L. Pechota in Rapid City, South Dakota and Gary Montana of Montana & Associates LLC in Osseo, Wisconsin.

U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Rapid Division case number 1:18-cv-01010-CBK

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Federal Communications Commission U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Aberdeen Divisions

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