The Norman Transcript

State/Region

October 28, 2013

Court: tribe immune from lawsuit

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court, reversing a previous ruling, says a family injured in a 2006 auto accident cannot sue the Peoria Tribe or its Buffalo Run Casino, where the other driver in the crash had been drinking.

The court’s 5-4 ruling on Sept. 24 dismissed the claim by Jennifer and Charles Sheffer, who alleged the casino overserved David Billups. Billups was killed when his car collided with the Sheffers’ tractor-trailer. The Sheffers and their son were injured.

“The Peoria Tribe is immune from suit in state court,” the decision states. “Because the Peoria tribe and its entities did not expressly waive their sovereign immunity by applying for and receiving a liquor license from the State of Oklahoma, the tribe is immune from dramshop liability in state court.”

Under Oklahoma law, sellers of alcohol have dramshop liability, which means they could be liable if someone they sell alcohol to hurts someone else.

The ruling reversed an unrelated Oklahoma case the court decided in 2008 that involved Thunderbird Entertainment Center’s dramshop liability. At the time, the court said tribes waive their immunity when they receive a mixed beverage license from the state.

Attorneys representing the Sheffers have requested a rehearing. If the state Supreme Court denies their request, the family plans to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, Lauren Peterson, the family’s attorney, told The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/17RR2Go ).

“From our perspective, it has a lot of import for Oklahoma citizens, and any state,” she said.

Jon Brightmire, a Tulsa attorney representing the tribe, declined comment.

The Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission, which enforces the state’s alcohol laws, expressed concern over the decision at a recent meeting.

“We want to make sure those serving alcohol are responsible. If you take the liability away, it could be dangerous,” said ABLE Director Keith Burt.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State/Region
  • Town changed, even with girls’ killer behind bars

    WELEETKA — Folks once settled in this sleepy central Oklahoma town to get away from the crime and hubbub of big-city life. Many residents didn’t bolt their doors or draw their shades at night. Most here never worried about people like ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Teachers from Spain begin arriving in Oklahoma

    TULSA — Teachers recruited from Spain by a Tulsa school district have started to arrive in Oklahoma for the new academic year. The Tulsa World reports (http://bit.ly/1rS1Q2a ) four of the 11 expected educators arrived Thursday in ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Driver killed after container falls on truck named

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Police have identified the person killed after a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 2, 2014

  • Fire chief in central Oklahoma city resigns

    EDMOND — A fire chief in a central Oklahoma city has submitted his resignation....

    August 2, 2014

  • Judge continues action in sexual assault case

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A judge has found probable cause to continue criminal proceedings against an Oklahoma man accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls in Kenya. Nineteen-year-old Matthew Lane Durham, of Edmond, is accused of sexually ...

    August 2, 2014

  • Trial postponed in Duncan baseball player death

    DUNCAN — The trial for a man charged in the fatal shooting of an Australian baseball player has been postponed until April....

    August 2, 2014

  • Oklahoma agency may have to vote again on issues

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Members of a new state agency charged with overseeing Oklahoma’s system for compensating injured workers may have to vote again on several issues because of possible violations of a law requiring certain state meetings to ...

    August 2, 2014

  • One killed when shipping container falls onto vehicle

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police say one person was killed when a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 1, 2014

  • Tampering accusations surface in OKC bombing case

    SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawyer suing the FBI over his public records request for surveillance videos from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing said Tuesday that one of his witnesses backed out after being visited by government officials last ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Christie set to visit state for fundraiser

    OKLAHOMA CITY — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is planning a return trip to Oklahoma after a December ice storm forced him to cancel a scheduled appearance with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin....

    July 30, 2014