Court to Hear Arguments Over Disputed Florida Settlement Payments

    Photo: Michal Kalasek |

    A U.S. appeals court will hear arguments today in a dispute about $100 million in payments related to a landmark legal settlement between the state of Florida and tobacco companies, reports Florida Politics.

    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. wants the 4th District Court of Appeal to overturn a ruling that said the company is responsible for making payments to the state related to the Salem, Winston, Kool and Maverick cigarette brands.

    R.J. Reynolds was part of the 1997 settlement in which cigarette makers agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state because of smoking-related health costs and, in exchange, received liability protections.

    In 2015, Reynolds’ parent company sold the four brands to ITG Brands to gain regulatory approval for its acquisition of Lorillard Tobacco Co. As a result of the sale, R.J. Reynolds contends it is no longer responsible for making payments linked to the four brands.

    A Palm Beach County circuit judge, however, ruled in 2017 that R.J. Reynolds remained responsible for the payments. Reynolds appealed that ruling, and its arguments will be heard today.

    ITG Brands, which was not part of the 1997 legal settlement agreement, contends the appeals court should uphold the circuit judge’s ruling that R.J. Reynolds is responsible for the disputed payments.