Court opens tribal casinos to lawsuits in state court

Tribal casinos can be sued in state court for personal injury lawsuits, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled.

The court said the tribal-state compact created concurrent state and tribal jurisdiction over personal injury actions. And since the compact was approved by the federal government pusuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, it can be enforced in the courts, the state justices said on Friday.

"For the reasons discussed earlier, we are persuaded that Congress intended the parties to negotiate, if they wished, the choice of laws for personal injury suits against casinos as well as a choice of venue for the enforcement of those laws," the decision stated.

The decision came in response to two lawsuits. One was filed against Santa Clara Pueblo by the family of a 15-year-old girl who was abducted at the tribe's casino and sexually assaulted. The other was field against San Felipe Pueblo who say they were injured at the tribe's casino.

The decision can be found at,350.html.

Get the Story:
Ruling favors court's authority in casino lawsuits (AP 2/27)
Courts Can Get Casino Cases (The Albuquerque Journal 2/27)