ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cases: Indian sovereign immunity

California_flag_7 A whistleblower at an Indian casino has learned the hard way that that "sovereign immunity" means "immunity."

Conrad Sabiron worked as a security officer at the Chumash Casino.  He discovered acts of illegal gambling, and after he “snitched,” the casino fired him.  Understandably upset, Sabiron sued for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and wrongful termination.   On appeal, Sabiron argued that while Indian tribes may have immunity, that does not allow them to break the law, fire the whistleblower, and get away with it.

Unfortunately, said the California Court of Appeals, that's exactly what immunity means.  Although Indian tribes may be prosecuted by the State for the gambling violations, no civil suit can be brought against them without their consent.  Thus, as meritorious as Sabiron’s case may be, said the court, he has no courtroom in which to present it.

Sabiron v. Gregory, 2005 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4775 (2d Dist., May 31, 2005).

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