Supreme Court upholds Oklahoma decision against tobacco company

The nation's high court rejected an appeal from a Canadian company that claimed the state couldn't collect payments for cigarettes sold to Indian tribal members.
by Chris Casteel Modified: December 2, 2013 at 5:49 pm •  Published: December 3, 2013
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— The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld Oklahoma's right to collect payments from a tobacco company for cigarettes sold to American Indians.

Without comment, the high court let stand a decision by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals that a state law requiring payments under the tobacco settlement applies to all cigarettes sold with a state excise tax stamp.

Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, a tribal-owned Canadian company, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in the case, claiming the state could not tax cigarettes sold to Indians at the same rate as those sold to non-Indians.

The case grew out of the 1998 settlement between 46 states and the nation's four largest tobacco companies. The settlement required those four companies to make payments in perpetuity for the states' cost of treating people with smoking-related illnesses.

An Oklahoma law then required tobacco companies that didn't participate in the settlement to deposit money in escrow, based on the number of cigarettes sold. Under the law, the money would be refunded to the companies in 25 years if not needed to pay health-related judgments or settlements against them.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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