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Oklahoma v. Tyson Foods, Inc.

ELR Citation: 39 ELR 20162
Nos. No. 05-cv-329, (N.D. Okla., 07/22/2009)

A district court dismissed Oklahoma's claims for monetary damages against poultry companies for injury caused to the Illinois River watershed stemming from the their storage and disposal of poultry waste. The state failed to join the Cherokee Nation as a required party. The Cherokee Nation possesses significant, legally protected interests in lands, waters, and other natural resources in the watershed that will be impaired or impeded by its absence, and joinder of the Cherokee Nation is not feasible because of tribal sovereign immunity. The state relied on an agreement entered between the Attorney Generals of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation in which the Nation delegated and assigned to Oklahoma any and all claims it has or may have against the defendants in this case. But the state failed to follow the requirements for entering into cooperative agreements with tribes. The court therefore concluded that under Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 19, the state's claims for monetary damages should not proceed. However, the Cherokee Nation is not a required party to the state's claims for injunctive relief. Those claims, therefore, remain viable.