Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sorting Out Dram Shop Liability for Providers on Tribal-Owned Property

The Day discusses tribal sovereign immunity in the context of dram shop cases, in the aftermath of the recent death of a 20-year-old Connecticut College student by a driver who was drinking at Mohegan Sun. Unlike a recent case that was dismissed from state court because it was brought against the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, its CEO Mitchell Etess, Tribal Chairman Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, and the permittee and bartender from the tribe-owned bar, the sailor accused of slamming into the livery van carrying the Conn College students told police he was drinking at a nontribal-owned nightclub located inside Mohegan Sun.

"In interviews last week, state officials, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, have said the nontribal businesses controlling Ultra 88, including the permittee, Plan B LLC, and Lyons' company, the Lyons Group, could face lawsuits in state, not just tribal, courts." Cases against tribal entities have been dismissed from state court because courts construe the agreements of the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to abide by state alcohol regulations as not detrimental to their sovereign status. "Instead, plaintiffs seeking damages after accidents caused by drinking at tribally owned and operated businesses have no recourse except the respective tribal courts maintained on the Mashantucket and Mohegan reservations." Non-tribal entities "are liable under the dram act, and also possibly under common-law reckless claims. The basic rule is if it's not tribal, they are liable.” Read more.

No comments: