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A federal judge has ruled that a tobacco manufacturer owned by a Yakama Nation tribal member must pay into an escrow account established under a 1998 settlement with big tobacco companies.

The 1998 settlement required big tobacco companies to pay money to 46 states each year to offset public health costs from their products. Smaller companies are required to pay into an escrow account, but that money could be returned eventually if no health claims are made.

King Mountain Tobacco claims it should be exempt from paying into the escrow accounts under the Yakama Nation's 1855 treaty with the federal government. King Mountain is owned by Yakama tribal member Delbert Wheeler.

U.S District Judge Lonny Suko ruled against the company on Friday.



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