Ohio SC sides with tobacco company in ad dispute

Ashton Daigle May 26, 2010, 4:00pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Legal Newsline) - The Ohio Supreme Court shot down an appeal from state Attorney General Richard Cordray in a case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., putting an end to a two-year legal battle.

The original lawsuit, filed by the state, alleged that the tobacco company's cigarette ad spread in Rolling Stone Magazine violated a multi-billion settlement between cigarette makers and 45 states reached in 1998, the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.

The four-page ad was part of a Rolling Stone editorial spread and used what state attorneys general said were cartoon images. Under the tobacco settlement, cigarette makers are prohibited from using cartoon images.

R.J. Reynolds initially maintained that they did not pay for the advertisement spread. The attorney general's office, however, claimed Reynolds "piggybacked" onto the spread to promote its product, according to a bizjournals.com report.

Four of the state Supreme Court justices voted to reject the state's appeal. Justices Paul Pfeifer and Judith Ann Lanzinger cast dissenting votes and newly appointed Justice Eric Brown did not participate in the review.

During the appeals hearing, attorneys for R.J. Reynolds successfully argued that the company had no knowledge that the spread would include cartoons, the report says.

Ohio was one of eight states that filed lawsuits against the tobacco giant.

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