US tribe's lawsuit against beer stores dismissed
LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) - A federal judge dismissed an American Indian tribe's lawsuit on Monday that blamed beer makers and nearby stores for chronic alcoholism on an impoverished South Dakota reservation, saying the case belonged in state court but gave a subtle nod to the tribe's claims.
The lawsuit was filed by the Oglala Sioux Tribe, which governs the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where alcohol is banned. Four beer stores named in the suit sold the equivalent of 4.3 million 12-ounce cans last year even though they're in Whiteclay, a Nebraska town with about a dozen residents on the reservation's border.
"There is, in fact, little question that alcohol sold in Whiteclay contributes significantly to tragic conditions on the reservation," United States (US) District Judge John M. Gerrard wrote in his ruling. "And it may well be that the defendants could, or should, do more to try to improve those conditions for members of the tribe.
"But that is not the same as saying that a federal court has jurisdiction to order them to do so." The judge dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the tribe could take its claims to state court.