Business | Law

Judge subjects Yakama Nation business to tobacco settlement





A federal judge ordered a tobacco company on the Yakama Nation of Washington to pay into a tobacco settlement fund.

King Mountain Tobacco was not a party to the multi-state settlement that set up the fund. But the judge said the Yakama Treaty of 1855 does not exempt the business, whose products rely on off-reservation activities.

"King Mountain’s business involves (1) shipping tobacco to Tennessee, where it is threshed, (2) shipping tobacco to North Carolina, where King Mountain tobacco is blended with Alliance One tobacco, (3) transporting the blended tobacco on its trucks from North Carolina back to Washington, (4) advertising its cigarettes in multiple states through trade shows and the Internet, and (5) selling its cigarettes (through a distributor) to retail stores throughout Washington (and multiple other states) that ultimately sell cigarettes to consumers," Judge Lonny Suko wrote in the decision.

"When taking into account the manufacturing process and the amount of non-trust-land tobacco that is used in King Mountain’s products, the Court finds that the cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco products produced by King Mountain are not principally generated from the use of reservation land and resources," Suko continued. "In sum, the finished cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco are not directly derived from trust land."

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, King Mt. Tobacco Co. v. McKenna.

Get the Story:
Court shoots down Yakama tobacco suit (AP 4/8)