9th Circuit backs immunity for tribal businesses
Tribal-owned businesses enjoy the same sovereign immunity as tribal governments, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on November 14.

Christopher Cook sued AVI Casino Enterprises, a corporation owned by the
Fort Mojave Tribe. He said the company was responsible for a drunk-driving accident involving a tribal employee.

The 9th Circuit disagreed and said tribes and their entities enjoy sovereign immunity absent an explicit waiver. But Judge Ronald Gould wrote separately to express his displeasure with the "unjust result" of the decision.

"In my view it would be desirable if (1) the United States Supreme Court on review were to establish a new rule limiting tribal sovereign immunity in this gaming context; or (2) the Congress were to pass new legislation limiting the sovereign immunity of tribal entities involved in ubiquitous commercial gaming activities across the United States; (3) the Tribe itself were to take responsibility for its casino employees’ actions, and affirmatively waive sovereign immunity in this case permitting Cook’s action to be resolved under a litigated adversarial process," wrote Gould, a Clinton nominee.

Get the Story:
Appeals court upholds tribal immunity (Capitol Media Services 11/20)

Court Decision:
Cook v. Avi Casino Enterprises (November 14, 2008)