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Oklahoma tribes could have to forgo immunity to sell alcohol

The Oklahoma ABLE Commission on Friday voted to pursue a rule change that would require tribes seeking a liquor license to forgo immunity in cases of overserving alcohol.
by Jennifer Palmer Modified: January 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm •  Published: January 21, 2014

Oklahoma liquor regulators want to end Indian tribal immunity from lawsuits over the actions of someone who was served too much alcohol.

The ABLE Commission intends to require tribes to give up this immunity as a condition for renewing or obtaining a liquor license.

This legal liability already applies to alcohol sellers under Oklahoma law, but the state Supreme Court in September found a tribe couldn't be sued because it hadn't waived its sovereign immunity when applying for the license.

In discussing the change, the commission's attorney told commissioners Friday it probably won't be popular with state tribal casinos and likely will end up in court.

She was asked to research and report back at the next meeting whether the commission has the authority to amend the application or whether a rule change is needed first.

The seven-member commission voted unanimously to pursue the rule change.

ABLE Director Keith Burt expressed concern in October over the impact the state Supreme Court ruling, involving the Peoria Tribe and its Buffalo Run Casino, could have.

In that case, Jennifer and Charles Sheffer and their young son were injured when their tractor-trailer was hit by a rental car driven by David Billups.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Jennifer Palmer
Investigative Reporter
Jennifer Palmer joined The Oklahoman staff in 2008 and, after five years on the business desk, is now digging deeper through investigative work. She's been recognized with awards in public service reporting and personal column writing. Prior to...
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