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Court: Seneca Nation golf course can be sued

Posted at 6:24 AM, Nov 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-26 12:19:35-05

The state's highest court says the Seneca Indian Nation's golf course in western New York lacks sovereign immunity and can be sued.

The Court of Appeals says the 18-hole course, incorporated in 2007 under laws of the federally recognized Seneca Nation, is not part of any reservation and not sovereign land.

The golf course was established in Lewiston as an amenity to the Senecas' nearby casino in the city of Niagara Falls. The course was built by Sue/Perior Concrete & Paving under a $12.7 million contract. The builder claims it's owned another $4.7 million from extra work and delays.

The court, divided 4-3, agrees with lower courts that refused to dismiss the builder's lawsuit.

The majority says the 250-acre golf course is not an "arm" of the tribe. The dissenters find "no rational legal basis" to separate it.