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April 23, 2014

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9th Circuit rules in Grand Canyon Skywalk dispute

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Justin M. Bowen

The Skywalk at Grand Canyon West Tuesday, May 3, 2011 just after the glass panels were replaced.

Grand Canyon Skywalk

An aerial tour of the Grand Canyon. Launch slideshow »

A federal appeals court says a Nevada developer must exhaust his legal battle over the Grand Canyon Skywalk contract dispute in tribal court before going to the federal level.

A lawyer for Las Vegas businessman David Jin told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco last October that the Hualapai (WAHL'-uh-peye) tribal court system lacks authority to hear the case.

Tribal attorneys say the operation of the popular glass bridge in northern Arizona is governed by Hualapai law.

Jin invested $30 million to build the bridge that opened in 2007. He and the tribe have disagreed on management fees and an incomplete visitors' center.

The tribal corporation that manages Skywalk also is appealing a $28 million judgment for Jin upheld last month by an Arizona federal judge.

“This is a significant victory for the Hualapai people and for tribal sovereignty. The 9th Circuit’s ruling shows deference to the tribal court system and its jurisdiction over these matters,” said Dave Cieslak, a Hualapai Tribe spokesman.

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