Buffalo law firm focusing on all aspects of commercial law

Indian Law

  • Zdarsky, Sawicki & Agostinelli LLP has been actively involved in representing Native Americans and non-Native Americans regarding reservation business and affairs, including in matters relating to state taxation and regulation, gaming issues, as well as regarding tribal governance issues. Zdarsky, Sawicki & Agostinelli LLP’s attorneys regularly appear in tribal courts and provide advice and counsel to reservation Indians and non-Indian clients transacting business on Indian reservations.
  • The firm’s attorneys were actively involved in litigation with the State of New York over a period of 10 years regarding the sale of gasoline, motor fuel and cigarettes on Indian Reservations without payment of state tax.  Mr. Zdarsky obtained the first injunction against the enforcement of the state’s motor fuel and diesel motor fuel tax claims on Indian reservations in 1985, and since then and at the present time, gasoline and diesel fuel is sold on Indian reservations in New York free of State taxes.
  • Represented members of the Tonawanda Band of Seneca Nation of Indians in a case brought under the Indian Civil Rights Act, leading to a federal court order vacating their “banishment” by tribal leaders.  In this case the United States Court of Appeals held that banishment was the equivalent of detention or confinement for purposes of supporting habeas corpus relief.
  • Obtained a preliminary injunction preventing the State of New York from imposing tax liability directly against a reservation Native American.
  • Protected the right of reservation Indians to use the Courts of New York to hear cases involving commercial disputes between tribal members that arise on the reservation.
  • Gerald T. Walsh defended Native American businessman in a Federal Court criminal prosecution regarding a dispute over abandoned railway property on Indian lands, obtaining an acquittal on all counts after a jury trial.
  • The firm represented tribal member in divorce proceedings in tribal court, including support, custody and property distribution issues, and successfully resisted efforts to transfer venue to state court.
  • K. Michael Sawicki obtained a Federal Court injunction against a state judge, enjoining the judge from proceeding with a divorce case against an Indian who had already commenced a matrimonial action in Tribal Court.   This landmark case established the priority and enforceability of earlier tribal divorce over subsequent state court action in federal court litigation.  This landmark case established the criteria for determining whether state or tribal court has primary jurisdiction in a case.
  • Represented utility in connection with issues relating to transmission lines crossing Indian lands.

Case History

The following cases and decisions are samples of cases previously litigated. Please note that prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.