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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 has ruled that tribal tobacco retailers don't have to charge taxes on tribal members, but the state law on the escrow payments encompassed all packs of cigarettes bearing a state tax stamp.

The Oklahoma appeals court ruled that a decision for Grand River Enterprises would allow the company to evade its escrow obligation “by distributing its cigarettes to be sold only on tribal lands.” Then, the court said, the company also could avoid the intent of the tobacco settlement — shifting the health care costs from the states “to the entities who profit from the smoking enterprise.”

A state court judge found Grand River Enterprises owed more than $5 million in escrow payments for 2005 and 2006 and fined the company about $508,000.

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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