Indian Tribe Sues for Damages in Alcohol Abuse Case

An American Indian tribe in South Dakota is demanding $500 million in damages, in a suit against beer manufacturers that alleges the companies knowingly contributed to alcohol-related problems on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Associated Press reports the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is suing for damages for the cost of health care, social services and child rehabilitation that was caused by chronic alcoholism. The tribe is also suing four off-site beer stores in a nearby town in Nebraska that sold almost five million cans of beer in 2010. The stores are located in Whiteclay, a town of only about a dozen residents, the article notes. The tribe’s leaders blame the beer stores for chronic alcohol abuse and bootlegging on the reservation, which bans alcohol.

The beer companies named in the suit are Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Co., MillerCoors LLC and Pabst Brewing Co.

The suit alleges the beer makers and stores sold their products to residents of the reservation, knowing they would smuggle the alcohol into the reservation, either to drink or resell. The reservation, which is the size of Connecticut, has long struggled with alcoholism. According to the AP, the lawsuit says one in four children born on the reservation suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

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    February 14, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    I feel that this is an absolute ridiculous law suit because the bottom line is that every person has the freedom to choose and to make their own choices. The stores that are selling it would find themselves in another law suit if they discriminated against the Indian’s by not selling them alcohol because they are Indian. Even if they did not sell alcohol, alcoholics will go somewhere else and find it, no matter what race or ethnicity they are. I am an addictions counselor and know that no matter what you do to outlaw or make it hard for alcoholics and addicts to get their drug of choice, in their active addiction, they will find a way to get it every time. This really looks like a situation where they wanted someone to blame and picked an easy target with a lot of money. Try something else. This isn’t right.

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