The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe owns and operates the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana. Photo: Paragon Casino Resort

Supreme Court decision affects employees of Tunica-Biloxi Tribe

A lawsuit against employees of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe will proceed now that the nation's highest court has cleared the path for litigation.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied the petition in Tunica-Biloxi Gaming Authority v. Zaunbrecher. The action, which was not unexpected, affirms a Louisiana decision that opened the three employees of the Paragon Casino Resort to a drunken driving lawsuit.

The writing was on the wall when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Lewis v. Clarke last week. By a unanimous vote, the justices held that a tribe's sovereign immunity does not extend to its employees even when those employees are acting within the scope of their duties.

The Tunica-Biloxi employees are being accused of negligence in connection with a fatal accident in Louisiana. A bartender allegedly served a drunk customer and the security guards allegedly escorted the man to his car before he struck and killed another motorist in July 2013.

While the tribe and the casino enjoy sovereign immunity, meaning they can't be sued without their consent, the same does not apply to the employees, a Louisiana appeals court ruled back in December 2015. The decision stands as a result of the Supreme Court's denial of the Tunica-Biloxi petition. The case appears on the first page of an order list released on Monday.

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

Louisiana Court of Appeal Decision:
Zaunbrecher v. Succession of David (December 9, 2015)

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