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SEC Filings

ALTRIA GROUP, INC. filed this Form 8-K on 02/01/2018
Entire Document

Altria Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements

the ITG brands under the Florida, Minnesota and Texas State Settlement Agreements or include the ITG brands for purposes of certain calculations under the State Settlement Agreements. PM USA believes that R.J. Reynolds’ and ITG’s position violates the State Settlement Agreements and applicable law. PM USA further believes that these actions: (i) improperly increased PM USA’s payments for 2015 and 2016 by at least $84 million; (ii) may improperly increase PM USA’s payments for subsequent years; (iii) may improperly decrease PM USA’s share of the 2015 and 2016 NPM Adjustments and the settlements of related disputes; and (iv) may improperly decrease PM USA’s share of NPM Adjustments and related settlements for subsequent years.
PM USA and the State of Florida each filed a motion in Florida state court against R.J. Reynolds and ITG seeking to enforce the Florida State Settlement Agreement. In December 2017, the Florida trial court ruled that R.J. Reynolds (and not ITG) must make settlement payments under the Florida State Settlement Agreement on the ITG brands.
Federal Government’s Lawsuit: In 1999, the United States government filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against various cigarette manufacturers, including PM USA, and others, including Altria Group, Inc., asserting claims under three federal statutes, namely the Medical Care Recovery Act (“MCRA”), the MSP provisions of the Social Security Act and the civil provisions of RICO. The case ultimately proceeded only under the civil provisions of RICO, and the trial ended in June 2005. In August 2006, the district court entered judgment in favor of the government. The court held that certain defendants, including Altria Group, Inc. and PM USA, violated RICO and engaged in seven of the eight “sub-schemes” to defraud that the government had alleged. Specifically, the court found that:  

defendants falsely denied, distorted and minimized the significant adverse health consequences of smoking;

defendants hid from the public that cigarette smoking and nicotine are addictive;

defendants falsely denied that they control the level of nicotine delivered to create and sustain addiction;

defendants falsely marketed and promoted “low tar/light” cigarettes as less harmful than full-flavor cigarettes;

defendants falsely denied that they intentionally marketed to youth;

defendants publicly and falsely denied that ETS is hazardous to non-smokers; and

defendants suppressed scientific research.

The court did not impose monetary penalties on defendants, but ordered the following relief: (i) an injunction against “committing any act of racketeering” relating to the manufacturing, marketing, promotion, health consequences or sale of cigarettes in the United States; (ii) an injunction against participating directly or indirectly in the management or control of the Council for Tobacco Research, the Tobacco Institute, or the Center for Indoor Air Research, or any successor or affiliated entities of each; (iii) an injunction against “making, or causing to be made in any way, any material false, misleading, or deceptive statement or representation or engaging in any public relations or marketing endeavor that is disseminated to the United States public and that misrepresents or suppresses information concerning cigarettes”; (iv) an injunction against conveying any express or implied health message or health descriptors on cigarette packaging or in cigarette advertising or promotional material, including “lights,” “ultra lights” and “low tar,” which the court found could cause consumers to believe one cigarette brand is less hazardous than another brand; (v) the issuance of “corrective statements” in various media regarding the adverse health effects of smoking, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, the lack of any significant health benefit from smoking “low tar” or “light” cigarettes, defendants’ manipulation of cigarette design to ensure optimum nicotine delivery and the adverse health effects of exposure to ETS; (vi) the disclosure on defendants’ public document websites and in the Minnesota document repository of all documents produced to the government in the lawsuit or produced in any future court or administrative action concerning smoking and health until 2021, with certain additional requirements as to documents withheld from production under a claim of privilege or confidentiality; (vii) the disclosure of disaggregated marketing data to the government in the same form and on the same schedule as defendants now follow in disclosing such data to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) for a period of 10 years; (viii) certain restrictions on the sale or transfer by defendants of any cigarette brands, brand names, formulas or cigarette businesses within the United States; and (ix) payment of the government’s costs in bringing the action.
Defendants appealed and, in May 2009, a three judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Court of Appeals”) largely affirmed the trial court’s remedial order, but vacated the following aspects of the order:

its application to defendants’ subsidiaries;

the prohibition on the use of express or implied health messages or health descriptors, but only to the extent of extraterritorial application;

its point-of-sale display provisions; and

its application to Brown & Williamson Holdings.