Justia Gaming Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New Mexico Supreme Court
The case involves a dispute over the jurisdiction of personal injury claims arising from incidents at tribal gaming facilities. The plaintiffs, Jeremiah Sipp and Hella Rader, filed a complaint against Buffalo Thunder, Inc., Buffalo Thunder Development Authority, the Pueblo of Pojoaque, the Pueblo of Pojoaque Gaming Commission, and Pojoaque Gaming, Inc. (collectively referred to as Petitioners), alleging that Sipp was injured due to the negligence of the casino's employees. The complaint was initially dismissed by the district court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, but this decision was reversed by the Court of Appeals.The district court had granted the Petitioners' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that the plaintiffs' claims did not fall within Section 8(A) of the Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (the Compact), which provides for state court jurisdiction over certain claims unless it is finally determined by a state or federal court that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not permit the shifting of jurisdiction over visitors’ personal injury suits to state court. The Court of Appeals, however, held that the plaintiffs' claims did fall under Section 8(A) and that neither of the two federal cases cited by the Petitioners, Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Nash and Navajo Nation v. Dalley, had triggered the termination clause in Section 8(A) of the Compact.The Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals, holding that the jurisdiction shifting under Section 8(A) of the Compact was terminated by Nash. The court reasoned that the plain language of the termination clause in Section 8(A) was clear and unambiguous, and that the federal district court's final determination in Nash that IGRA does not permit such a jurisdictional shifting constituted the qualifying event that terminates the Tribe’s duty to provide its “limited waiver of . . . immunity from suit.” Therefore, the court concluded that state courts do not possess subject matter jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs' underlying claim. View "Sipp v. Buffalo Thunder" on Justia Law