Justia Antitrust & Trade Regulation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Native American Law
New York v. Mountain Tobacco Co.
King Mountain appealed the district court's judgment granting partial summary judgment for the State on its claims that King Mountain violated state laws on cigarette sales, and enjoining future violations. The State cross-appealed from the district court's dismissal of its claims under the Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act (CCTA) and the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act).The Second Circuit reversed with respect to the district court's grant of summary judgment for King Mountain and the denial of summary judgment for the State on the PACT Act claim. The court agreed with the State that Congress's decision to separately define "Indian country" and "State" in the PACT Act evidenced Congressional intent to expand the traditional understanding of "interstate commerce" rather than narrow it. The court held that the definition of "commerce between a State and any place outside the State," encompassed King Mountain's sales from the Yakama reservation in Washington State to Indian reservations in New York. The court agreed with the district court's holding that King Mountain, which was organized under the laws of the Yakama Nation, wholly owned by a member of the Yakama Nation, and located on the Yakama reservation, qualified as an "Indian in Indian Country," and thus was exempt from the CCTA.The court held that King Mountain failed to establish a violation of the dormant Commerce Clause; there was no error in the district court's determination that the State's third claim for relief was not barred by res judicata; the district court correctly granted summary judgment for the State on its third claim for relief; and, to the extent King Mountain's argument related to trade, there was no right to trade in the Yakama Treaty. Therefore, the court affirmed in all other respects. View "New York v. Mountain Tobacco Co." on Justia Law
California v. Native Wholesale Supply Co.
Defendant Native Wholesale Supply Company (NWS), an Indian-chartered corporation headquartered on a reservation in New York, sold over a billion contraband cigarettes to an Indian tribe in California, which then sold the cigarettes to the general public in California. The cigarettes were imported from Canada, stored at various places in the United States (not including California), and then shipped to California after they were ordered from the reservation in New York. The California Attorney General succeeded on his motion for summary judgment holding NWS liable for civil penalties in violation of two California cigarette distribution and sale laws and Business and Professions Code section 17200 (the unfair competition law), and obtained a permanent injunction precluding NWS from making future sales. The Attorney General further obtained an award of attorney fees and expert expenses. NWS appealed the judgment and the attorney fee order. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Native Wholesale Supply Co." on Justia Law
Miller, et al v. Wright, et al
Plaintiffs, cigarette vendors, appealed the district court's dismissal of their antitrust action against defendants for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs challenged taxes imposed by the virtue of the authority vested in an Indian tribe. The court held that the tribe did not implicitly waive its sovereign immunity by agreeing to dispute resolution procedures nor by ceding its authority to Washington State when entering into a cigarette tax contract. The court also held that federal antitrust law did not explicitly abrogate tribal immunity, and the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. 1, was not a law of general applicability vis-a-vis the tribe. The court further held that tribal officials were protected by the tribe's sovereign immunity because they acted pursuant to the tribe's authority. The court affirmed the district court's alternative ruling that the action was barred by res judicata in light of the prior litigation in state and tribal courts. View "Miller, et al v. Wright, et al" on Justia Law