Tennessee AG sues Colombian cigarette company over unpaid fees

Chris Rizo Jan. 5, 2010, 12:45pm

Bob Cooper (D)

NASHVILLE (Legal Newsline)-Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper is suing a Colombian cigarette manufacturer over unpaid fees on smokes sold in his state.

Cooper said in a statement that Procesadora Nacional Cigarillera S.A. / Pronalci S.A., or Pronalci, is required by law to make payments into an escrow account for all cigarettes sold in Tennessee.

He is seeking back payment of $300,000 plus attorney fees and penalties for cigarettes sold in Tennessee last year. The lawsuit was filed in the 20th Judicial District Circuit Court of Davidson County in Nashville.

Money in the tobacco escrow account is to reimburse the state for health care to treat smokers in the Volunteer State.

Bucaramanga, Colombia-based Pronalci is not a member of the multistate Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement and is therefore classified under the Tennessee Tobacco laws as a Non-Participating Manufacturer. As such, the company must pay into the special escrow account.

The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, reached in 1998 between tobacco companies and 46 states and six U.S. territories, was intended to settle lawsuits that states had filed to recover government costs associated with people who became ill from smoking or tobacco-related illnesses.

The settlement agreement was reached originally by the nation's four largest tobacco companies: Philip Morris USA, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., and Lorillard Tobacco Company. More than 40 other tobacco companies later joined the agreement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

More News