Sioux tribe sues alcohol retailers and distributors

Beer — By on February 12, 2012 at 2:00 am

Attorney Tom White announced at a Nebraskans for Peace news conference the Oglala Sioux tribe is suing several distributors and retailers of alcohol.

“The Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks compensation for all of the damages the Lakota people have suffered as a result of illegal alcohol sales,” said White, who is with White and Jorgensen Law Offices in Omaha. “The defendants have failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure their products are distributed and sold in obedience to the laws of the State of Nebraska and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.”

Some of the defendants listed are:
Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, Inc.
SAB Miller d/b/a Miller Brewing Company
Molson Coors Brewing Company
Miller Coors, LLC
Pabst Brewing Company
Pivo, Inc. d/b/a High Plains Budweiser
Dietrich Distributing Co., Inc.
Arrowhead Distributing, Inc.
Coors Distributing of West Nebraska d/b/a Coors of West Nebraska
Jason Schwarting d/b/a Arrowhead Inn, Inc.
Sanford Holdings, LLC d/b/a D&S Pioneer Service
Stuart Kozal d/b/a/ Jumping Eagle Inn
Clay Brehmer and Daniel Brehmer d/b/a State Line Liquor

How close is too close to a dry county?

Their argument is the retailers and distributors of alcohol have opened liquor stores in Whiteclay right on the border of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The result in 2010 was 4.9 million beers were bootlegged onto the reservation. That’s about 13,000 cans a day. In 2005 the population was estimated to be 28,787, but Jim Berg, Executive Director for Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing suggests the number may be closer to 40,000.  Whiteclay, NE has a few dozen residents.

While I sympathize with their plight fighting alcohol abuse, I’m not sure they have a case here.  They can demonstrate harm, but they cannot oversee how Nebraska sells alcohol.   The alcohol retailers are legally located where alcohol can legally be sold. They cannot dictate what business is located on the other side of the border.

I’m not sure they want to pick this fight. Does that mean casinos located on the border of territories where gambling is illegal, say the Prairie Wind Casino, can be sued as well?  The casino was not built to cater to their own population.  Maybe the lawsuit’s purpose is to raise awareness?

I’d say both sides are guilty of placing businesses which are illegal on the opposite side of the border, both which can be destructive if abused. What do you think? Do the Sioux have a case, or is turnabout fair play?

(Source: USA Today)

I am a avid homebrewer and winemaker. I’ve been making my own beer and wine for many years. I started making beer when I was in college (mostly because the drinking age in the United States is 21). My first few beers were horrible. The beers are much better now, and I often supply my neighborhood with free beer!

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