Business | Law

Federal judge rules in tobacco case affecting tribal retailers

A federal judge issued a decision last Friday in a tobacco taxation lawsuit brought by New York City.

The city sued two wholesalers that supply tobacco to retailers on the Shinnecock Nation, a federally recognized tribe, and on the Poospatuck Reservation, a state recognized tribe. The lawsuit is unique in that the alleged violations of tobacco laws mostly occurred outside of the city's jurisdiction.

However, Judge Carol B. Amon said the city presented evidence that "cigarettes sold on the Poospatuck reservation were purchased by non-Native Americans in large quantities and trafficked into New York City" in a section of the decision affecting one wholesaler. She made similar findings with regard to the second wholesaler.

But Amon dismissed charges against a third wholesaler, finding that the city failed to providence evidence that has been harmed by Day Wholesale. The company supplies tobacco to retailers on reservations in central and upstate New York -- far from city limits.

"Day has never sold cigarettes to the Poospatuck reservation or any other reservation on Long Island," the judge noted in the 63-page unpublished decision.

Get the Story:
Tobacco Companies Broke Law by Selling Untaxed Cigarettes, Judge Rules (The New York Times 8/23)