New York courts busy with Indian law disputes
Three Indian law cases were decided by the state appellate courts last week, the New York Law Journal reports.

In Alexander v. Hart, an appellate court ruled that the state's "scaffold law" applies to a worker who was injured at a site on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation. The judges said the sovereignty of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe was not affected by the dispute.

"Jurisdiction is proper in this action involving statutes aimed at protecting workers, as the statutes and this action address commercial and tort matters between individual civil litigants and do not implicate the St. Regis Mohawk nation's government or sovereign rights," Justice Kane wrote.

In Attea v. Tax Appeals Tribunal, an appellate court ruled that a Tennessee cigarette wholesaler is liable for more than $1 million in state taxes. Elias H. Attea Jr. allegedly underreported his income for sales of cigarettes to Indian retailers on Indian lands.

"Although petitioner argues that all state transactional record-keeping requirements are inapplicable to Indian traders due to preemption by federal law in this area, it is now well established that 'Indian traders are not wholly immune from state regulation that is reasonably necessary to the assessment or collection of lawful state taxes,'" Justice Mercure wrote.

Finally, in Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Cayuga County Sheriff David S. Gould, an appellate court ruled that two counties illegally raided smoke shops owned by the Cayuga Nation.

Get the Story:
Appellate Rulings Highlight Growth in 'Thorny' Indian Law Issues (New York Law Journal 7/16)