Oklahoma AG's win of $47.7M against tobacco company upheld

By David Yates | Jun 18, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline) - The Supreme Court of Oklahoma has upheld a $47 million summary judgment verdict won by state Attorney General Scott Pruitt in a lawsuit against Native Wholesale Supply, a cigarette distributer.

In 2008, the state's former attorney general, Drew Edmondson, filed suit against NWS, asserting the company was selling Seneca cigarettes in violation of the Complementary Act.

The Complementary Act requires all tobacco product manufacturers whose cigarettes are sold in Oklahoma to list the cigarette brand names with the attorney general and certify that the company makes a required annual payment into an escrow account for health care costs associated with cigarette smoking.

The act was a result of the landmark litigation undertaken by states against tobacco companies in the late 1990s.

On May 9, 2013, a district court granted summary judgment in favor of the attorney general and state in the amount of $47,767,795.20, court records show.

After having its motion for new trial shot down, NWS appealed.

On June 10, the Supreme Court upheld the judgment.

The justices found NWS had gross receipts totaling $47,767,795.20 from the sale of contraband Seneca cigarettes for resale in Oklahoma from August 2006 to August 2010.

Based upon the Complementary Act, the settled law of the case, and the undisputed material facts on summary judgment, the summary judgment was proper, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying NWS a new trial, the court's opinion states.

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com.

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