Conn. and Tribes Sue Interior For Failure to Publish Gaming Compact Amendments

Here is the complaint in the matter of State of Connecticut et al v. Zinke et al, 17-cv-02564 (D.D.C. Nov. 29, 2017):

Doc. 1 – Civil Cover Sheet and Complaint

With the State of Connecticut, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes have filed suit against the Secretary of Interior after the Department failed to treat submitted
amendments to their gaming compact as deemed approved and publish in the Federal Register notice that the amendments are deemed approved.

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses and Remands Lewis v. Clarke

Opinion here.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

Indian tribes are generally entitled to immunity from suit. This Court has considered the scope of that immunity in a number of circumstances. This case presents an ordinary negligence action brought against a tribal employee in state court under state law. We granted certiorari to resolve whether an Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity bars individual-capacity damages actions against tribal employees for torts committed within the scope of their employment and for which the employees are indemnified by the tribe.

We hold that, in a suit brought against a tribal employee in his individual capacity, the employee, not the tribe, is the real party in interest and the tribe’s sovereign immunity is not implicated. That an employee was acting within the scope of his employment at the time the tort was committed is not, on its own, sufficient to bar a suit against that employee on the basis of tribal sovereign immunity. We hold further that an indemnification provision does not extend a tribe’s sovereign immunity where it otherwise would not reach. Accordingly, we reverse and remand.

Previous posts, briefs, and other documents here.

Amicus Briefs Supporting Respondent in Lewis v. Clarke

Here:

Oregon and Arizona Amicus Brief

Seminole Tribe Amicus Brief

NCAI Amicus Brief (+Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Six Tribes)

Ninth and Tenth Circuit Tribes’ Amicus Brief

Background materials here.

US Seeks Reversal in Lewis v. Clarke (Different Theory than Petitioners)

Here is that brief:

SG Brief

Here is another amicus brief supporting petitioner:

Conn. Trial Lawyers Assn. Amicus Brief

The background materials are here.

Fletcher Preview of Lewis v. Clarke

Here is “Supreme Court case could expose Indian tribes to new legal risks” at The Conversation.

Excerpt:

One would be tempted to think this is a case about fairness, about guaranteeing a forum for non-Indians to sue tribal employees who might be cloaked in a tribe’s immunity from the suit. In my opinion, fairness to the Lewis couple, however, comes at the expense of fairness to the tribe.

Recall that the tribe does provide a forum to resolve personal injury claims against it in tribal court, but with a one year limitations period. Under that law, the Mohegan tribal court has confirmed awards against tribal police officers; indeed, the tribe likely has settled thousands of claims over the years.

I have long argued that Indian tribes should provide an adequate forum to address the negligent actions of their employees. The Mohegan tribe has done so here by establishing a tribal court and a legal process for resolving personal injury claims. In fact, Mohegan was one of the earliest tribes to start doing so, way back in the 1990s. But personal injury lawyers have complained about Mohegan law because it bars punitive damages and other doctrines that can balloon judgment awards.

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Background materials on the case are here.

Lewis v. Clarke Background Materials

Merits Briefs:

Amicus Briefs:

Cert Stage Briefs:

Connecticut Supreme Court materials:

Other materials:

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Cert in Lewis v. Clarke

Order list here.

Question Presented: Whether the sovereign immunity of an Indian tribe bars individual-capacity damages actions against tribal employees for torts committed within the scope of their employment.

Previous coverage here.