The Law Office of Andrew W. Twietmeyer has scored a major win in the California Court of Appeal for patrons and employees of Tribal Casinos in California in the case Cosentino vs. Fuller et. al. (G050923).
Mr. Twietmeyer filed a civil action on the Plaintiff's behalf in the Riverside County Superior Court on March 25, 2013. See Cosenitino vs. Fuller et. al., R.S.C. Case No. 1300396. The Complaint alleges civil causes of against five former gaming commissioners of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians who, the complaint alleges, revoked Plaintiff's gaming license without cause and in retaliation for the Plaintiff’s cooperation with the Department of Justice as a confidential informant.
On July 26, 2013, the Riverside County Superior Court dismissed the complaint finding that the five Defendants were shielded from suit by tribal sovereign immunity. Mr. Twietmeyer timely appealed on the Plaintiff's behalf.
On May 28, 2015, in an opinion certified for publication, a three-judge panel of California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three, unanimously reversed. The Court held (as Mr. Twietmeyer argued) that tribal sovereign immunity does not shield a tribal official from being sued in his or her individual capacity for tortious acts taken in his or her official capacity, if those tortious acts violate the scope of his or her statutory authority. "A tribal official also may forfeit immunity where he or she acts out of personal interest rather than for the benefit of the tribe.” See Op. at 11.
Mr. Twietmeyer stated, “The California Court of Appeal today provided much-needed clarity regarding the limits of the doctrine of Tribal Sovereign Immunity—a doctrine that (as this case illustrates) has become shockingly expansive in its application at the trial level in California. Tribal officials are not sovereigns. They are mere mortals like you and I. When a tribal official’s tortious acts violate the scope of that official's authority, the official is justly subject to suit like everyone else is. We are all equal under the law.”
The opinion is available here.