ITG Brands assumed liability for tobacco settlement payments to Florida when it acquired four Reynolds American brands in 2015, a Delaware judge ruled, according to AP. As a result, ITG must compensate Reynolds American Inc. for losses incurred.
ITG bought the Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick brands in 2014. Before the sale closed, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was making payments under a preexisting settlement agreement to reimburse Florida for smoking-related healthcare costs. After the deal closed, Reynolds stopped making payments for the four brands.
The purchase agreement required that ITG use reasonable best efforts to join the Florida settlement and make payments to the state for the brands it acquired from Reynolds. However, ITG has not joined the settlement agreement or made any payments.
Florida sued Reynolds and ITG, which ended with a judgment requiring Reynolds to continue paying on the settlement agreement unless and until ITG joins the agreement.
“That judgment on Reynolds amounts to over $170 million to date and tens of millions of dollars more each year into perpetuity,” noted Vice Chancellor Lori Will. The “unambiguous terms” of the asset purchase agreement support Reynolds’ arguments that ITG agreed to assume the liability imposed by the Florida judgment and must indemnify Reynolds, she concluded.