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Bench Book - 5.3.3 Immunity in Another State's Courts

Neither the Eleventh Amendment nor other formulations of sovereign immunity bar a suit against a state in the courts of another state. Nevada v. Hall, 440 U.S. 410 (1979). In Mianecki v. Second Judicial Court of Washoe County, 658 P.2d 422 (Nev. 1983), sovereign immunity did not prevent a tort suit in Nevada against the state of Wisconsin and one of its ICAOS administrators who failed to notify a transferring probationer’s new housemates of his criminal and sexual history, leading to the sexual abuse of their minor son. Under Nevada v. Hall, Wisconsin and its administrator were not immune from suit in Nevada’s courts. The Supreme Court of Nevada also held that Nevada was not required to grant full faith and credit to the immunity the defendants would have enjoyed in Wisconsin’s courts. To the contrary, the law of Nevada applied. And under Nevada law, the complained-of failure to notify the victim’s family of the nature of the offender’s prior offense was an “operational” (that is, not discretionary) deficiency for which sovereign immunity would be waived. Mianecki, 658 P.2d at 424.