Visitor Question

Security guard vehicle hit pedestrian…

Submitted By: Dana (Joplin, MO)

An employee of the casino was off the clock and walking to her car in the parking lot when she was hit by a security guard in his vehicle. The casino of course denies liability and states that the fault is on the security driver hired by the Tribe.

Would the security guard have sovereign immunity?

Shouldn’t there be some type of independent auto insurance to cover the victim’s damages? Any information you can give on how the victim can get restitution would be appreciated.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Dana,

In the case of Cook v. Avi Casino Enterprises, Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (California) upheld the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity for a tribal casino.

In the case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Cook was struck and seriously injured when an on-duty casino employee negligently drove his car into Mr. Cook.

Although sympathetic to Mr. Cook’s arguments, the Court held that whether or not a tribal casino owner should be held liable for injuries caused by its employees is not a matter for the Court. Instead, the issue of sovereign immunity and its application can only be defined by, and applied by the U.S. Congress.

From the facts you present, your options are:

– File a claim with your own insurance company

– File a claim with the driver’s insurance company, or

– Sue the driver.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: April 15, 2015

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