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|ALTRIA GROUP, INC. filed this Form 8-K on 02/01/2018|
Altria Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements
rehearing petition. In August 2013, in Calloway, discussed further above, plaintiff filed a motion in the trial court to determine the sufficiency of the bond posted by defendants on the ground that the bond cap statute is unconstitutional, which was denied.
In February 2016, in the Sikes case against R.J. Reynolds, the trial court held that Florida’s bond cap statute does not stay the execution of judgment after a case is final in the Florida judicial system and before the defendant files a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. The District Court of Appeal for the First District of Florida issued an order staying execution of the judgment and requesting that plaintiff show cause why the stay should not remain in effect through the completion of United States Supreme Court writ of certiorari review or until the time for moving for such review has expired. In April 2016, the District Court of Appeal held that the bond cap applies to the period between a Florida Supreme Court ruling and completion of United States Supreme Court writ of certiorari review. In April 2016, PM USA filed motions in the trial court in the R. Cohen and Kayton cases seeking confirmation that the stay on executing the judgment remains in effect through the completion of United States Supreme Court writ of certiorari review or until the time for moving for such review has expired, which the court granted.
No federal court has yet addressed the constitutionality of the bond cap statute or the applicability of the bond cap to Engle progeny cases tried in federal court.
The Florida legislature is considering legislation that would repeal the 2009 appeal bond cap statute.
Other Smoking and Health Class Actions
Since the dismissal in May 1996 of a purported nationwide class action brought on behalf of allegedly addicted smokers, plaintiffs have filed numerous putative smoking and health class action suits in various state and federal courts. In general, these cases purport to be brought on behalf of residents of a particular state or states (although a few cases purport to be nationwide in scope) and raise addiction claims and, in many cases, claims of physical injury as well.
Class certification has been denied or reversed by courts in 61 smoking and health class actions involving PM USA in Arkansas (1), California (1), Delaware (1), the District of Columbia (2), Florida (2), Illinois (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Nevada (29), New Jersey (6), New York (2), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), Puerto Rico (1), South Carolina (1), Texas (1) and Wisconsin (1).
As of January 29, 2018, PM USA and Altria Group, Inc. are named as defendants, along with other cigarette manufacturers, in seven class actions filed in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario. In Saskatchewan, British Columbia (two separate cases) and Ontario, plaintiffs seek class certification on behalf of individuals who suffer or have suffered from various diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema,
heart disease or cancer, after smoking defendants’ cigarettes. In the actions filed in Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, plaintiffs seek certification of classes of all individuals who smoked defendants’ cigarettes. See Guarantees and Other Similar Matters below for a discussion of the Distribution Agreement between Altria Group, Inc. and PMI that provides for indemnities for certain liabilities concerning tobacco products.
Health Care Cost Recovery Litigation
▪Overview: In the health care cost recovery litigation, governmental entities seek reimbursement of health care cost expenditures allegedly caused by tobacco products and, in some cases, of future expenditures and damages. Relief sought by some but not all plaintiffs includes punitive damages, multiple damages and other statutory damages and penalties, injunctions prohibiting alleged marketing and sales to minors, disclosure of research, disgorgement of profits, funding of anti-smoking programs, additional disclosure of nicotine yields, and payment of attorney and expert witness fees.
Although there have been some decisions to the contrary, most judicial decisions in the United States have dismissed all or most health care cost recovery claims against cigarette manufacturers. Nine federal circuit courts of appeals and eight state appellate courts, relying primarily on grounds that plaintiffs’ claims were too remote, have ordered or affirmed dismissals of health care cost recovery actions. The United States Supreme Court has refused to consider plaintiffs’ appeals from the cases decided by five circuit courts of appeals.
In addition to the cases brought in the United States, health care cost recovery actions have also been brought against tobacco industry participants, including PM USA and Altria Group, Inc., in Israel (dismissed), the Marshall Islands (dismissed) and Canada (10 cases), and other entities have stated that they are considering filing such actions.
In September 2005, in the first of several health care cost recovery cases filed in Canada, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that legislation passed in British Columbia permitting the lawsuit is constitutional, and, as a result, the case, which had previously been dismissed by the trial court, was permitted to proceed. PM USA’s and other defendants’ challenge to the British Columbia court’s exercise of jurisdiction was rejected by the Court of Appeals of British Columbia and, in April 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada denied review of that decision.
Since the beginning of 2008, the Canadian Provinces of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia have brought health care reimbursement claims against cigarette manufacturers. PM USA is named as a defendant in the British Columbia and Quebec cases, while both Altria Group, Inc. and PM USA are named as defendants in the New Brunswick, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia cases. The Nunavut Territory and Northwest Territory have passed similar legislation. See Guarantees and Other Similar Matters below for a discussion of