Tribes object to expansion of Ho-Chunk casino in Wittenberg (copy) (copy)

A rendering of the Ho-Chunk casino expansion in Wittenberg.

Ho-Chunk Nation

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a northern Wisconsin Indian tribe’s lawsuit against another tribe and the state of Wisconsin over the expansion of a rival tribe’s casino, finding that the lawsuit is barred by a statute of limitations.

In October, U.S. District Judge James Peterson found that the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans was too late in filing its lawsuit to block the Ho-Chunk Nation from expanding its casino in Wittenberg, but held open the question of whether its claims against the state of Wisconsin and Gov. Scott Walker were also barred by a six-year statute of limitations.

Peterson wrote in October that the Stockbridge-Munsee should have filed their lawsuit against the Ho-Chunk, which are finishing a $41 million casino resort about 20 miles west of the Stockbridge-Munsee’s North Star Casino Resort, before 2014. That was the end of the six-year statute of limitations that began after the Ho-Chunk first opened its casino at Wittenberg in 2008.

Likewise, Peterson wrote in a decision issued Friday, the Stockbridge-Munsee’s claims against the state began in 2008 and were also subject to a six-year statute of limitations, which has lapsed. The Stockbridge-Munsee had argued that its claims against the state accrued only when the tribe stopped making revenue sharing payments to the state in 2017, but Peterson disagreed.

Sanctions disallowed

Peterson also rejected the Stockbridge-Munsee’s proposed amendment of its lawsuit, which would have added new claims against the Ho-Chunk, and denied the Ho-Chunk’s motion for sanctions against the Stockbridge-Munsee over its proposed amendments. In rejecting sanctions, Peterson wrote that the Stockbridge-Munsee’s “last-ditch effort” to save its case is understandable, “even if it was of questionable merit.”

Stockbridge-Munsee spokeswoman Megan Hakes said that the tribe will appeal the decision.

“We believe the decision is wrong and that each and every day Ho-Chunk conducts gaming at the Wittenberg casino in violation of the compact is a new and continuing violation of the compact,” Hakes wrote in an emailed statement.

Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.