With enormous profits trial lawyers reaped from tobacco companies, it was only a matter of time before manufacturers of alcohol drew attention. Despite the fact an Indian tribe’s lawsuit against manufacturers and sellers was stymied by a federal judge, 5 inmates at Idaho’s Kuna facility are suing beer companies.
There are differences in the lawsuits.
The Indian tribe went after beer manufacturers, but also targeted off-reservation retailers in Whiteclay, Nebraska. Indian Country Today summed up the problem:
Earlier this year, the Oglala Sioux tribe filed a 500 million dollar lawsuit that claims the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska, which sits less than 250 feet from the border of the Pine Ridge Reservation and sells just nearly 5 million cans of beer annually, is responsible for the massive amounts of alcohol consumed as well as the collateral damages caused to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Pine Ridge Reservation permits no alcohol—basically a de facto Prohibition policy.
The federal judge in the Ogala lawsuit rightly decided the suit didn’t belong in federal court but could be presented in state court.
The inmates took a different tack, claiming alcohol led them to a life of crime. The inmates say they never received notice that alcohol is addicting. The inmates filed the lawsuit without an attorney, although it’s likely the sentiments behind their case will draw future attention and attorneys willing to sue.
The Idaho inmates’ beer lawsuit raises all sorts of questions—should we sue chocolatiers for making people addicted to sweets fat? Car companies for building autos capable of exceeding every speed limit in the nation and thereby feeding the habitual speeder’s addiction?
Maybe we could sue Hollywood for feeding addictions to violence and sexual promiscuity.
When it comes to lawsuits and trial attorneys, reason goes out the door alongside common sense.
The concept of responsibility for one’s own actions is rapidly becoming an endangered species, eroding freedom as a result.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Jan. 2, 2013)