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

Kickapoo Tribe casino bus crash lawsuits on hold amid insurance dispute

A slew of lawsuits targeting the Kickapoo Tribe and its casino are on hold amid a dispute over a $5 million insurance claim.

Nine people died and 43 more were injured when a bus carrying patrons to the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle Casino in Texas crashed in May 2016. Although the tribe did not operate the bus in question, some of the victims are accusing the casino of negligence.

But those cases remain on hold as a federal bankruptcy judge determines how to allocate $5 million in insurance coverage. Attorneys representing the victims are at odds over who should get the funds, with some claiming their clients are owed $3.5 million after reaching settlements with the company that operated the bus, The McAllen Monitor reported.

“The bankruptcy proceeding was initiated by those claimants who were left out of those settlement talks; and the claim was that the insurance proceeds are part of the debtors’ estate,” attorney John David Franz, whose clients were left out of the settlement, told the paper.

The tribe and the casino haven't been a part of the proceeding, according to the federal court docket. But Franz believes the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lewis v. Clarke will help his clients connect the bus accident to the casino.

In Clarke, the court ruled that a tribe's sovereign immunity does not extend to tribal employees. Lucky Eagle employees allegedly authorized the bus company to recruit people to come to the casino.

Read More on the Story:
$5 million insurance allocation to be decided by court (The McAllen Monitor 6/28)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Lewis v. Clarke:
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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