Hood wins lawsuit over tobacco payments

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 25, 2011, 12:12pm


JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) - A Mississippi judge has ruled in favor of state Attorney General Jim Hood, ordering Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. to pay nearly $8 million to the state.

Jackson County Chancery Court Judge Jaye A. Bradley issued a ruling Wednesday on the attorney general's motion to enforce settlement against Brown & Williamson.

Under a previous tobacco settlement agreement, the company is required to pay Mississippi for every cigarette it makes and ships.

Hood argued that Brown & Williamson made cigarettes but shipped them to a third party manufacturer, STAR. STAR then sold those cigarettes to consumers in Mississippi.

Bradley said there is no dispute that from 1999 to 2002 Brown & Williamson manufactured and shipped to STAR more than 7.5 billion cigarettes and that at least 600 million STAR cigarettes were sold in Mississippi.

"However, Brown & Williamson did not include these STAR cigarettes within their calculations for payments made to Mississippi pursuant to the settlement agreement," Bradley wrote.

The attorney general, in a statement Wednesday, said he was pleased with the judge's ruling.

"The court agreed with our position that Brown & Williamson could not use such trickery to avoid paying Mississippi for those cigarettes," Hood said.

Bradley ordered Brown & Williamson to pay approximately $8.1 million to the state. She also ordered the company to pay all of the state's attorneys fees and costs.

Also, the court said it would hold in abeyance awarding any punitive damages until it is determined how much the tobacco company owes on other matters that were raised in the litigation.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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