• Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court
  • CV-PI-2010-192
  • Dec 12 2013 (Date Decided)
  • O'Connell, J.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court can honor the choice-of-law provision in a contract. In 2009, the plaintiff, Susan Quarti, attended a concert at Foxwoods and allegedly tripped and fell. Quarti sued the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise and HKS Architects, alleging that they were negligent. The Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise filed a cross claim against HKS, alleging that Paul Steelman Ltd., acting on behalf of HKS, agreed that HKS would serve as the architect for the MGM Grand Theater and would defend and indemnify the tribe. The Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise claimed that HKS is responsible for indemnification, contribution and defense, if the plaintiff proves that the design was negligent. HKS Inc. moved to dismiss on the basis that the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise did not comply with the law of Nevada. The court honored the choice-of-law provision in the 2005 contract, which provided, "This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the principal place of business of the Architect unless otherwise provided in Article 14." The architect’s principal place of business is Nevada. Pursuant to Nevada law, the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise was required to file: 1.) an attorney affidavit that the action has a reasonable basis in law and fact; and 2.) an expert statement from a licensed engineer, surveyor or architect that a reasonable basis exists to file the action. It was undisputed that the required attorney affidavit and expert statement were not filed, and the court dismissed the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise’s claim against HKS Inc. for indemnification pursuant to the 2005 contract. A count that alleged common-law indemnification and that was not based on the 2005 contract survived the motion to dismiss.

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