Tribal Car-Collision Case Skids Into SCOTUS

     (CN) — A limo driver for Mohegan Sun Casino hit the jackpot when Connecticut’s highest court decided that tribal immunity shields him from having to pay a couple he rear-ended on a highway five years ago.
     On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether his luck will run out.
     William Clarke had been driving southbound on I-95 nearly five years ago when he smashed into the back of Brian and Michelle Lewis’ car, sending them to a concrete barrier on the west side of the interstate near Norwalk.
     Respecting tribal sovereign immunity, the Connecticut Supreme Court threw out the case against Clarke earlier this year, but the high court granted the couple’s petition for certeriori today.
     With little resemblance to the famous American explorers whose names they share, the Lewises and Clarke met with the sovereign-immunity hurdle soon after the state court expedition began.
     A trial judge initially favored the Lewises, finding that Clarke did not benefit from the same immunity as his employer, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, named after one of the two federally recognized tribes in Connecticut.
     But the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed that decision on March 15. “It is well established that ‘Indian tribes are domestic dependent nations that exercise inherent sovereign authority,'” Justice Dennis Eveleigh had written for the court.
     The seven-judge panel agreed the Clarke had been an employee of the tribe acting within the scope of his employment when the accident occurred.
     As is its custom, the Supreme Court granted the couple’s petition for certeriori today without comment.
     Daniel Krisch, an attorney for Clarke with the Hartford firm Halloran & Sage, declined to comment on the case.
     The Lewises’ attorney Eric Miller, a partner at Perkins Coie, declined to comment.
     Mohegan Sun has been listed as a defendant 86 times in the Courthouse News database.

%d bloggers like this: