Robbie Hargett May 31, 2016, 12:28pm


FORT PIERCE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - A Florida man is suing the manufacturers of a certain brand of cigarette, alleging they mislead and deceive consumers.

Scott Johnston of Indian River County, Florida, individually and for all others similarly situated, filed a class action lawsuit May 2 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Fort Pierce Division against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Inc. and Reynolds American Inc., alleging unjust enrichment, violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act,  and violation of similar statutes in other states.

The suit states the defendants manufacture and sell Natural American Spirit cigarettes, marketing and labeling them as "natural," "additive-free," "organic" and as an "unadulterated tobacco product." These terms, the lawsuit states, are intended to imply that American Spirits are purer, healthier and safer than other cigarettes and that they present a reduced risk of tobacco-related disease.

However, the suit alleges, there is no scientific evidence to suggest American Spirits are any safer or healthier than other cigarettes. Additionally, the lawsuit says, research conducted by Santa Fe's competitors has shown that American Spirits are not free of additives. 

As a result, the complaint states, purchasers of American Spirits paid a premium for cigarettes that are no healthier than other lower-cost cigarettes.

Johnston and others in the class seek a jury trial, actual and punitive damages, interests, attorney fees and costs, and any further injunctive and declaratory relief. They are represented by attorneys Matthew D. Schultz of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor in Pensacola, Florida, and James W. Gustafson of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley in Tallahassee, Florida.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Fort Pierce Division Case number 1:16-CV-00474-JB-LF

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U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida Fort Pierce Division
101 Route 1
Fort Pierce, FL 34950

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