April 29, 2011
New Mexico is home to many Indian Casinos. They are very popular. Like any other business, particularly casinos, there are countless ways for patrons to be injured. When a personal injury occurs at or near an Indian Casino, the first and most important question is whether or not there is sovereign immunity protecting the tribe or pueblo from suit in New Mexico State courts.
For the most part, tribes and pueblos enjoy sovereign immunity against any kind of legal action. This includes everything from personal injury claims to contract disputes. Sovereign immunity means that suits against the tribes or pueblos must be brought in tribal court. This poses a very significant and often overwhelming challenge to plaintiffs.
In case of Indian Casinos or gaming, there is qualified immunity. Under the Indian Gaming Compact, the tribes and pueblos waive immunity for suits by visitors or patrons for personal injuries suffered in relation to the gaming enterprise.
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