Articles Posted in Gaming Law

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Siblings Michael and Desiree Mendoza attended a wedding reception at the Santa Ana Star Casino operated by Petitioner, Tamaya Enterprises, Inc. (the Casino), where they were served alcoholic beverages and became intoxicated.  Casino employees continued to serve Michael and Desiree alcohol despite their apparent intoxication.  Michael and Desiree left the Casino and were killed when their vehicle left the roadway and rolled over.  Suit was filed in state court against the Casino claiming that the Casino's delivery of alcohol to Michael and Desiree while they were obviously intoxicated was in violation of state law and proximately caused their deaths. The Casino sought to dismiss the suit, claiming the state court lacked jurisdiction over a dram shop action where the tavernkeeper's duty not to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person is imposed by tribal law, not state law, and where the tribal law contains a provision reserving exclusive jurisdiction to the tribal courts. The Court of Appeals issued an opinion reversing the district court's dismissal of the complaint and remanded for further proceedings. In this appeal, the Supreme Court addressed a question of state court jurisdiction in a dram shop action brought under the Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact (the Compact), negotiated between the State of New Mexico and the Pueblo of Santa Ana pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. There was a conflict between Section 8 of the Compact which provides for state court jurisdiction where a casino visitor has been injured by the conduct of a casino, and Section 191 of the Pueblo of Santa Ana Liquor Ordinance, which reserves exclusive jurisdiction to tribal courts.  Upon review of the applicable legal authority, the Supreme Court concluded that New Mexico state courts properly exercise jurisdiction over casino visitors' personal injury claims pursuant to the Compact.  The second issue concerns the two types of common law dram shop claims:  claims brought by third parties injured by the conduct of the intoxicated patron against a tavernkeeper (third-party claims) and claims brought by the intoxicated patron against the tavernkeeper to recover for his own injuries (patron claims).  The Court considered the status of such common law claims following the codification of dram shop liability in the Liquor Control Act.  Due to the explicit language contained in the act that limits its application to taverns licensed under New Mexico law, the Court held that the Act was not intended to preempt all common law  claims.  Accordingly, because the Act does not preempt all common law claims, the common law recognizes an action by a third party against a tavernkeeper for over service of alcohol.  Therefore, the Court affirmed the result reached by the Court of Appeals and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings. View "Mendoza v. Tamaya Enters, Inc." on Justia Law