Turtle Talk: Review of tribal immunity decisions

"Since we started this blog in fall 2007, there have been a plethora of tribal sovereign immunity federal and state court decisions. Most of them are routine — slips and falls, internal tribal disputes — but a handful of these cases are worth watching because of the subject matter and the general uniqueness of the problem.

Oklahoma gaming compacts — the Oklahoma Supreme Court has been interpreting the Class III Oklahoma gaming compacts as virtual waivers of immunity, in almost comically formalistic ways. These compacts, passed by the state’s voters, are a take-it-or-leave-it prospect for tribes. They allow for suits against the tribes in a court of “competent jurisdiction,” which the Oklahoma court has interpreted to mean state courts. Opinions here and here.

Dram Shop Actions — Again, these would not be unusual except the Oklahoma Supreme Court has found a waiver of immunity in state courts for dram shop actions. That case, Bittle v. Bahe, conflicts with the decisions of several other courts (discussion here).

Bivens Actions against tribal cops — A federal common law cause of action against tribal officers gained ground in federal district court, but didn’t get so far in the circuits (here and here).

Section 1983 claims against tribal cops — Did gain ground (here)."

Get the Story:
What’s Going on With Tribal Sovereign Immunity? (Turtle Talk 8/24)

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