New Mexico court OKs damage lawsuit against tribal casino

By Barry Massey
Sante fe, New Mexico (AP) July 2011

The state Supreme Court is allowing the family of two people killed in a car accident to sue a tribal casino that served them alcohol after they were intoxicated.

A ruling by the justices permits a lawsuit for damages to move ahead in state court against the Santa Ana Star Casino near Bernalillo.

Santa Ana Pueblo’s casino had argued that the legal dispute should be handled in tribal court. The Supreme Court disagreed.

The lawsuit was brought by the mother and other family of Michael and Desiree Mendoza, a brother and sister who were killed in a car crash in July 2006 after attending a wedding reception at the casino. The lawsuit contends their deaths were caused because the casino continued to serve them alcohol after becoming intoxicated.