Supreme Court: Tribal employee can be sued
A U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this week involving a Mohegan Sun limo driver will make it a bit easier to sue employees of Indian tribes in state courts.
In an opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the unanimous decision overturns a state Supreme Court ruling that said William Clarke, the limo driver, could only be sued in the Mohegan Tribes own court because he was doing his job for an Indian tribe when a crash with Brian and Michelle Lewis took place.
James Harrington, who represented the Lewises’, practices frequently in the tribal courts of the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots. He said the courts have caps on the amounts of damages a plaintiff is entitled to, and their cases are decided by judges, not juries.
The ruling does not limit tribal sovereignty on reservations or involving the tribes themselves, meaning anyone accidentally injured at either tribal-owned casino in Connecticut still won’t be able to sue except in a tribal court.
After losing her case in tribal court, Sun tried to sue several Foxwoods officials who confiscated her winnings in federal court in Connecticut, claiming: “Plaintiffs are suing them … in their individual capacities in concert with a state police officer.”
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