Slot malfunction case submitted to Supreme Court

By Tim Korte
Albuquerque, New Mexico (AP) August 2010

A New Mexico attorney says Native American gambling casinos have become big business, such a large enterprise that he believes they should be exempted from a cornerstone of Indian legal authority – tribal sovereignty.

Sam Bregman has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case where a client, retired Albuquerque city worker Gary Hoffman, sued Sandia Resort and Casino over what the tribe characterized as a malfunctioning slot machine that displayed a $1.6 million jackpot.

Bregman represented Hoffman in a lawsuit, but a state District Court judge dismissed it and the New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld that decision.

Both rulings supported Sandia Pueblo’s position that the tribe can’t be sued because of the tribe’s sovereign immunity.

Sandia attorney David Mielke says sovereignty is an endowed right for tribes.