ILNews

Court explores definition of tobacco manufacturing

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals today delved into what it means to manufacture cigarettes under state law.

A unanimous 30-page decision came in Steve Carter in his role as Attorney General v. Carolina Tobacco Company, Inc. http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/09170702jgb.pdf,No. 49A04-0503-CV-151, affirming a lower court decision that the state attorney general's office improperly refused to include an Indiana tobacco company in a yearly directory of manufacturers allowed to sell cigarettes in the state.

The Marion County suit involves the "Roger" brand of cigarettes that began being distributed in the mid-1990s in Eastern Europe, but came to the United States in August 1999 with the creation of Oregon-based CTC - though the company's registered agency for service of proof is Indianapolis. These cigarettes were produced outside the country and then distributed by CTC here, and the Indiana Department of Revenue determined that Roger brand sales from 1999 to 2002 amounted to about 283 million cigarettes sold in the state.

But based on the tobacco settlement agreements in the late 1990s, certain manufacturers were included on a list compiled by state attorney general offices and CTC was not included. Both sides debated whether state statutes adequately defined "manufacture," and Carter's office equated the term "manufacture" with "fabricate" - only an entity physically assembling or fabricating cigarettes could be dubbed a tobacco product manufacturer and included on the list.

CTC debated this interpretation for the 2003 list, and eventually sued for not being included. Marion Circuit Judge Ted Sosin granted a preliminary injunction against the attorney general's office from enforcing the rules that would mean pulling Roger brand cigarettes from sales locations.

"Based on the factual evidence in this case, the Court concludes that, at all times since its founding in 1999, CTC has directly manufactured Roger cigarettes," Judge Sosin found as a conclusion of law. "The Court, therefore, concludes that CTC has been and continues to be the tobacco product manufacturer of Roger cigarettes."

On appeal, Chief Judge John Baker and Judges Mark Bailey and Nancy Vaidik determined the court did not err in ruling against the attorney general's office. It noted that other Indiana statutes are more broadly interpreted, citing Indiana's product liability statute that defines manufacturer as a "person or entity who designs, assembles, fabricates, produces, constructs, or otherwise prepares a product or a component part of a product before the sale of the product to a user or consumer."

"In our view, the totality of the evidence presented at trial establishes that OAG's decision to equate 'manufacture' with 'fabricate' for purposes of considering CTC's request for inclusion in the Directory was arbitrary and, therefore, unreasonable," Chief Judge Baker wrote. "Therefore, the trial court's determination... was proper."
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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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