Cherokee Nation says opioid lawsuit belong in tribal court

Cherokee Nation says opioid lawsuit belong in tribal court

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Cherokee Nation is urging a federal judge to allow a tribal lawsuit against distributors and retailers of opioid medications to be litigated in the tribe's own court.

Cherokee Nation Attorney General Todd Hembree filed written arguments Wednesday in the tribe's lawsuit alleging the companies have contributed to "an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse" among the tribe's citizens.

The companies are asking a judge to block the lawsuit, claiming there is no legal basis for the Cherokee Nation's claim that it has authority within a 14-county area in northeastern Oklahoma.

But Hembree says a recent federal appeals court decision invalidating a Muscogee (Creek) Nation member's murder conviction because his alleged crime occurred in Indian Country supports the Cherokee tribe's contention that its courts have jurisdiction over its opioid lawsuit.

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