MIAMI (CN) – The 11th Circuit upheld a decision to dismiss a father’s claim that the Miccosukee Indian Tribe was negligent when serving his daughter too much alcohol the night she was killed in a car crash.
John V. Furry sued the Miccosukee Resort and Gaming in 2010 on behalf of his deceased daughter Tatiana Furry.
Furry claimed the Miccosukee Indian Tribe of Florida was negligent when its employees “furnished Tatiana with a substantial amount of alcoholic beverages.”
He said the tribe knew of his daughter’s addiction to alcohol because they “had served Tatiana a substantial amount of alcohol on multiple occasions on their premises.”
Furry said the tribe’s employees witnessed Tatiana get in her car in an intoxicated state and did nothing. She was in a head-on collision a short time later. The night she died, Tatiana’s blood-alcohol level was a .32, four times the legal limit, her father said.
The Miccosukee Tribe moved to dismiss Furry’s complaint because the district court did not have jurisdiction due to tribal sovereign immunity.
The district court agreed and dismissed Furry’s suit based on the sovereign immunity issue, while also noting that the tribe had a license to sell alcohol and Tatiana was of legal drinking age.
Furry appealed the decision but a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit could find no case precedent supporting Furry’s claims, and could make no exception.
The order, written by Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus, states that trying to pull together an exception to tribal immunity would directly conflict with the Supreme Court’s doctrinal statement that an Indian tribe is subject to suit in state or federal court “only where Congress has authorized the suit or the tribe has waived its immunity.”