Catherine Munson is co-leader of the Native American Affairs practice. She has extensive litigation experience, representing tribal clients in complex cases before the Court of Federal Claims, federal district courts, federal appellate courts, the United States Supreme Court and administrative agencies. Ms. Munson also advises tribal and business entities on a variety of matters including water issues, code drafting, occupational health and safety, tax, sovereign immunity and insurance procurement and loss prevention.
Ms. Munson was awarded the Managing Partner Pro Bono award for her work on behalf of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa Tribe in southern New Mexico. Ms. Munson has been recognized in 2019 and the three years immediately preceding as a Washington D.C. “Super Lawyer” for Native American Law and as a 2013 Washington D.C. “Rising Star” for General Litigation by Super Lawyers magazine.
Negotiated substantial settlements for four tribal clients in actions against the United States for mismanagement of trust funds and assets.
Lead counsel for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in its case against California water districts seeking a declaration and quantification of Agua Caliente’s federally reserved rights to groundwater. The Agua Caliente Tribe seeks to enjoin the water districts from further infringing on the Tribe’s federal rights by degrading the water quality in the Coachella Valley and over drafting the aquifer. The United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Tribe holding it has a federally reserved right to groundwater. Matter is pending.
Successfully represented a Tribe and over 1,000 allottees in a complex class action trespass claim against the United States regarding an expired transmission line right-of-way. The matter involved obtaining favorable rulings from both the United States Court of Federal Claims and the District Court for the District of Arizona.
Represented one of the most successful gaming Tribes in the country in a case before the National Labor Relations Board, defending the Tribe’s sovereign authority to apply its own Tribal employment laws in place of federal law. Also represented Tribe on campaign strategies prior to and during elections.
Obtained the first discovery ruling by a federal court requiring that the United States search through 34,000 boxes of records it stored at the American Indian Records Repository (AIRR) in Lenexa, Kansas. Prior to this decision, the United State required tribes to bear the burden of searching for the records.
Kilpatrick Townsend currently represents enrolled members of the Comanche, Caddo, Apache, Cherokee, and Kiowa Tribes of Oklahoma, who own an allotment outside of Anadarko, Oklahoma, on which a natural gas pipeline was first constructed in 1980. The easement expired in 2000, yet the pipeline company continued to operate the pipeline for more than 16 years. After being turned away by several other firms, the landowners contacted Kilpatrick Townsend, which agreed to take on their case. After filing an action for trespass, the firm secured a succession of rulings in their favor – including Orders dismissing the natural gas company’s condemnation claims and rejecting arguments to limit the landowners’ damages. The firm’s legal team then filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and for a Permanent Injunction, asking that the Court find that the natural gas company was in trespass and order it to remove the pipeline from the landowners’ property. Granting that motion, the Court found that “plaintiffs have objected to the renewal of the easement and defendants’ continued use of the pipeline from the time defendants first sought the renewal of the easement,” and that the natural gas company and its predecessor had failed to comply with any of the federal statutes under which they could have secured a valid easement. Therefore, the Court found that “defendants’ continuing trespass on plaintiffs’ property is clearly not unintentional,” granted summary judgment on liability in Plaintiffs’ favor, and entered the following permanent injunction: Defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from using the pipeline under the tract at issue in this case and are hereby required to remove said pipeline within six months of the date of this Order. Damages for the natural gas company’s trespass remain to be determined. Marcia W. Davilla, et al. v. Enable Midstream Partners, L.P., et al., No. 5:2015cv01262 (W.D. Okla. 2016).
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Emory University School of Law, J.D. (1999)
Vanderbilt University, B.A., Political Science (1995)
District of Columbia (2009)
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Federal Claims
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
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