Business | Law

Colville man loses suit over tobacco sales on the reservation

A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation of Washington lost his lawsuit that challenged tobacco sales on the reservation.

Terry Tonasket, the owner of the Stogie Shop, accused his tribe of violating federal price fixing, anti-trust and unfair competition laws. He also said the tribe lacked authority to tax one of his non-Indian customers.

Judge Lonny Suko, however, said the case is really about the tobacco compact between the tribe and the state of Washington. He agreed that the tribe can't be sued without a waiver of immunity and that the state, which also enjoys sovereign immunity, can't be joined without its consent.

“It was truly sad that we actually had a tribal member who attempted in court to take away our ability to tax. That’s a fundamental right we have as a sovereign nation,” Chairman Michael Finley told The Wenatchee World.

Tonasket says he will be forced out of business because it has to collect the tribe's tax and because it faces competition from a tribally-owned smoke shop. He plans to take the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, his attorney said.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Tonasket v. Sargent.

Get the Story:
Lawyer vows to appeal tribal cigarette tax case (The Wenatchee World 11/22)

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