Wednesday, April 1, 2009

San Manuel Pushing for Dismissal of $50 Million Lawsuit

An attorney representing the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is pushing to get a $50 million lawsuit against the tribe dismissed, arguing sovereign immunity.
Attorney Jerry Levine said San Manuel is an established governmental entity and immune to litigation, unless certain procedures are adhered to first.

"If you wanted to sue the government or the mayor, you have to go through procedures. There has to be a waiver by the government. It's the same thing with a tribe," Levine said Monday. "Under U.S. Supreme Court and under California law as well, (San Manuel) is a recognized government and has governmental immunity."

Highland attorney Frank Peterson filed a counter motion to Levine's motion on March 18 in San Bernardino Superior Court, alleging that the conspiracy to kill his client, Leonard Epps, was initiated by tribe members Stacy Nunez-Barajas and her brother, Erik Barajas in 2006. Peterson says tribe members met with Mexican Mafia members inside the VIP room of the casino and passed a picture of Epps around.

Peterson also alleges in his motion that a high-ranking tribe member meted out thousands of dollars to Mexican Mafia leaders as payoff money, and was seen discussing drug deals and contract killings on the reservation.

That member of the tribe is not being named because the individual has not been arrested or charged with any crime.

SBSUN story

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