Sue/perior Concrete & Paving, Inc. v. Lewiston Golf Course Corp., — N.Y.S.2d—, 2013 WL 2674470 (N.Y. App. Div. June 14, 2013)
In Sue/perior Concrete, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, clarifies how closely a corporation must be tied to an Indian tribe to be entitled to tribal sovereign immunity.
Defendant, Lewiston Golf Course Corporation, was an Indian tribe-affiliated entity formed under the laws of the Seneca Nation of Indians. Lewiston hired the plaintiffs, Sue/perior Concrete & Paving, Inc. to construct a golf course that would increase revenue for an adjoining casino. The casino was owned by Lewiston’s parent company, Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corporation. Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corporation was in turn owned by another corporation, which itself was in turn owned by the Seneca Nation. Thus, the Seneca Nation was Lewiston’s ultimate owner, but the Nation was three steps removed from construction of the golf course. The construction project took over a year longer than estimated, and upon completion Sue/perior sued Lewiston for $4.1 million for extra work performed as well as delay-related damages. Lewiston moved to dismiss on the grounds that they were entitled to the Seneca Nation’s sovereign immunity.