BRIAN LEWIS ET AL.
WILLIAM CLARKE ET AL
December 15, 2015.
for certiorari filed at, 06/13/2016
to recover damages for the named defendant's alleged
negligence, and for other relief, brought to the Superior
Court in the judicial district of New London, where the
action was withdrawn as against the defendant Mohegan Tribal
Gaming Authority; thereafter, the court, Cole-Chu, J., denied
the named defendant's motion to dismiss, and the named
plaintiffs sought to recover damages from the defendant C,
for negligence in connection an automobile accident that had
occurred during the course of C's employment as a
limousine driver with the defendant tribal gaming authority.
The plaintiffs withdrew their claims against the tribal
gaming authority before trial. Thereafter, C filed a motion
to dismiss, arguing that, because the accident had occurred
during the course of his employment, the plaintiffs'
claims against him in an individual capacity were barred
under the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. The trial
court denied C's motion to dismiss, determining that the
doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity did not apply because
the plaintiffs sought money damages from C personally and not
from the tribal gaming authority. On C's subsequent
appeal, held that the trial court improperly denied
C's motion to dismiss; this court concluded that the
doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity extended to the
plaintiffs' claims against C because the undisputed facts
established that he was an employee of the tribal gaming
authority and was acting within the scope of his employment
when the accident occurred.
J. Krisch, with whom was Robert A. Rhodes, for the appellant
M. Harrington, for the appellees (plaintiffs).
C. J., and Palmer, Zarella, Eveleigh, McDonald, Espinosa and
Robinson, Js. EVELEIGH, J. In this opinion the other justices
Conn. 707] EVELEIGH, J.
dispositive issue in this appeal is whether the trial court
properly denied the defendant William
Clarke's motion to dismiss
the claims made by the plaintiffs, Brian Lewis and Michelle
Lewis, on the ground that tribal sovereign immunity did not
apply to their claims against the defendant in his individual
capacity. On appeal, the defendant asserts that the trial
court improperly denied his motion to dismiss because tribal
sovereign immunity barred the plaintiffs' claims against
him for an accident that occurred while he was acting within
the scope of his employment with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming
Authority. We agree with the defendant and, accordingly,
reverse the judgment of the trial court.
Conn. 708] The following undisputed facts and procedural
history are relevant to this appeal. " On October 22,
2011 . . . Brian Lewis was operating a motor vehicle
southbound on [Interstate 95] in Norwalk, Connecticut. . . .
Michelle Lewis was his passenger. [The defendant] was driving
a limousine behind the plaintiffs. Suddenly and without
warning, [the defendant] drove the limousine into the rear of
the plaintiffs' vehicle and propelled the plaintiffs'
vehicle forward with such force that it came to rest
partially on top of a [concrete] barrier on the left-hand
side of the highway. The collision and the plaintiffs'
resulting injuries were caused by [the defendant's]
negligence. At that time, [the defendant] was a Connecticut
resident, had a Connecticut driver's license, and,
according to the affidavit of Michael Hamilton, the [Mohegan
Tribal Gaming Authority's director of transportation],
was driving a limousine owned by the [Mohegan Tribal Gaming
Authority] and was employed by the [Mohegan Tribal Gaming
Authority] to do so. Specifically, [the defendant] was
driving patrons of the Mohegan Sun Casino to their homes. The
limousine was covered by an automobile insurance policy
issued by Arch Insurance." (Footnote omitted.)
plaintiffs filed an action against the defendant claiming,
inter alia, that they sustained injuries as a result of the
defendant's negligence and carelessness. The defendant
filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, claiming that the
trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because he was
entitled to tribal sovereign immunity. In support of his
motion, the defendant filed, inter alia, the affidavit from
Hamilton. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, claiming that
the trial court was not without subject matter jurisdiction
because the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity does not
extend to a tribal employee, who is named in his individual
capacity, [320 Conn. 709] and the damages are sought from the
employee, not from the tribe. The trial court denied the
defendant's motion to dismiss, determining that it was
not deprived of jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' claims
under the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity because the
plaintiffs sought money damages from the defendant
personally, not from the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.
This appeal followed.
appeal, the defendant claims that the trial court improperly
denied his motion to dismiss. Specifically, the defendant
asserts that the trial court ...