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Court allows lawsuit over casino-related crash

The Absentee Shawee Tribe waived its sovereign immunity by selling liquor at its casino, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

The tribe obtained a liquor license from the state. That makes the Thunderbird Entertainment Center liable in a civil lawsuit, the court said in a 7-2 decision.

"Congress did not intend to make tribal members 'super citizens' who could trade in a traditionally regulated substance free from all but self-imposed regulations," the court wrote [Decision].

The case now proceeds on the merits to determine whether the casino is at fault for allegedly serving too much liquor to Valentine Bahe and Val Tsosie. Shatona Bittle claims Bahe and Tsosie caused an April 30, 2004, accident, in which Bahe died.

Get the Story:
Court: Tribe not immune from crash suit (The Tulsa World 2/6)
Casino suit to go back to district court (The Oklahoman 2/6)
Supreme Court rules suit against tribe can proceed (AP 2/5)