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Dawavendewa v. Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Dawavendewa sued the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District for failing to interview him when their lease agreement required them to give hiring preference to members of the Navajo Nation.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A lawsuit should be dismissed if an indispensable party cannot be joined.

    Facts.

    The Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District (SRP) leased land from the Navajo Nation where they were required to give hiring preference to Navajos under the lease. Dawavendewa, a Hopi, was denied for an interview when he applied for a job. Dawavendewa sued SRP and SRP sought to dismiss for failure ot join the Navajo Nation. The district court dismissed the complaint.

    Issue.

    Whether a lawsuit should be dismissed if an indispensable party cannot be joined?

    Held.

    Yes. The district court’s dismissal is affirmed. The Navajo Nation maintains sovereign immunity as a federally recognized tribe and cannot be joined without consent. The Navajo Nation is an indispensable party and the case should not continue without them.

    Discussion.

    FRCP 19 requires an action to be dismissed if a necessary party cannot be joined. The Navajo Nation was a necessary party and Dawavendewa could not be provided full relief without the Navajo Nation joined in the lawsuit. If SRP discontinues the hiring procedures they can be subject to suit in tribal court or kicked out of Navajo Nation land.


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