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Strate v. A-1 Contractors

United States Supreme Court
520 U.S. 438 (1997)


Gisela Fredericks (plaintiff), a non-Indian, had a car accident with Lyle Stockert (defendant), who was driving a gravel truck owned by A-1 Contractors (defendant), a non-Indian business and Stockert’s employer. Stockert was also non-Indian. The accident occurred on a public highway that ran through Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The stretch of highway passed through the reservation, but was owned and maintained by North Dakota as part of a federally granted right-of-way. Fredericks sued A-1 Contractors and Stockert in tribal court. A-1 Contractors contested jurisdiction, but the lower and appellate tribal courts sustained jurisdiction. A-1 Contractors sued in federal district court, seeking a declaratory judgment that the tribal court lacked jurisdiction over non-Indian claims. The district court upheld the tribal court’s jurisdiction. The Eighth Circuit reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

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