Supreme Court ruling seen as benefit to casino bus crash lawsuit

The Kickapoo Tribe owns and operates the Lucky Eagle Casino in Eagle Pass, Texas. Photo: J.R. Ramos

The ink is barely dry on a new sovereignty decision from the nation's highest court but some are already singing its praises.

Attorney John David Franz told The McAllen Monitor that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lewis v. Clarke could help the victims of a casino-related bus crash in Texas. He was initially worried about going after Kickapoo Tribe but the ruling has given him hope.

“It was my impression that at some point the claims against the casino would be dismissed based on the law, but now with the Supreme Court opinion, though, I think the door is definitely open for us to proceed,” Franz told the paper.

Nine people died and 43 were injured in the May 2016 crash. The passengers were on their way to the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino at the time of the incident.

The bus involved in the accident was operated by a third party but Franz and other attorneys are trying to connect the tribe and the casino to the crash. Some 10 lawsuits have been filed in various courts in Texas, The Monitor reported.

The decision in Lewis v. Clarke opens the door for lawsuits against tribal employees because the Supreme Court determined that sovereign immunity does not extend to them. The ruling did not affect a tribe's immunity.

Read More on the Story:
Supreme Court ruling may help victims of casino bus crash (The McAllen Monitor 4/27)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision:
Syllabus [Summary of Outcome] | Opinion [Sotomayor] | Concurrence [Thomas] | Concurrence [Ginsburg]

U.S. Supreme Court Documents:
Docket Sheet No. 15-1500 | Questions Presented | Oral Argument Transcript

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Federal authorities concerned about tribal casino bus incidents (October 28, 2016)
Kickapoo Tribe faces lawsuits over fatal casino bus crash in Texas (July 7, 2016)
Kickapoo Tribe added to lawsuit over deadly casino bus accident (May 23, 2016)
Kickapoo Tribe looks into bus company involved in fatal accident (May 17, 2016)