Patron sued Coeur d'Alene Tribe over alleged fall at casino hotel

An elderly woman who allegedly fell at the casino owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Idaho saw her lawsuit dismissed due to sovereign immunity.

Dorothy Tollett, 80, said she tripped over a bedspread that was on the floor of a hotel room at the Coeur d’Alene Casino. She suffered two broken arms and now requires the use of a wheelchair when she leaves home.

“It ruined my life,” Tollett told The Spokesman Review of the July 5, 2007, incident.

Tollett filed a claim with the casino's insurance carrier but it was denied. So she filed a lawsuit in tribal court but it was dismissed after tribal attorneys raised a sovereign immunity defense.

“Just as it protects the federal, state and local governments, sovereign immunity is intended to protect tribal governments from frivolous lawsuits,” Heather Keen, the tribe's public relations director, told the paper. “It is something the Coeur d’Alene Tribe invokes only with good reason.

Keen said the insurance carrier investigated Tollett's fall and found it was without merit.

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Sovereignty can leave non-tribal members in legal limbo (The Spokesman Review 6/24)