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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
The appellate panel remanded the case for the trial court to reconsider these four aspects of the injunction and to reformulate its remedial order accordingly.
In November 2012, the district court issued its order specifying the content of the corrective communications described above and defendants appealed. In April 2014, the parties submitted a motion for entry of a consent order in the district court, setting forth their agreement on the implementation details of the corrective communications remedy, which the district court approved in June 2014. In May 2015, the D.C. Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part the appeal on the content of the corrective communications, concluding that certain portions of the statements exceeded the district court’s jurisdiction under RICO, but upheld other portions challenged by defendants. The D.C. Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
In February 2016, the district court issued an order adopting modified corrective statements. Defendants appealed and, in April 2017, the D.C. Court of Appeals reversed in part the district court’s decision on the content of the corrective communications, striking certain content and remanding to the district court the decision on how to revise certain other content. In June 2017, the district court issued an order adopting modified corrective statements. In October 2017, the court approved the parties’ proposed consent order implementing the corrective communications remedy for newspapers and television. The corrective statements began appearing in newspapers and on television in the fourth quarter of 2017. In January 2018, the parties submitted a status report and a request for a status conference to address open issues regarding onsert and website implementation details. The defendants also filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to mediate the remaining implementation details and for an order clarifying that the DOJ may not enforce the previous consent order with respect to onserts and websites prior to resolution of all implementation details.
In the second quarter of 2014, Altria Group, Inc. and PM USA recorded provisions on each of their respective balance sheets totaling $31 million for the estimated costs of implementing the corrective communications remedy. This estimate is subject to change due to several factors, though Altria Group, Inc. and PM USA do not expect any change in this estimate to be material.
The consent order approved by the district court in June 2014 did not address the requirements related to point-of-sale signage. In May 2014, the district court ordered further briefing by the parties on the issue of corrective statements on point-of-sale signage, which was completed in June 2014.
In December 2011, the parties to the lawsuit entered into an agreement as to the issues concerning the document repository. Pursuant to this agreement, PM USA agreed to deposit an amount of approximately $3.1 million into the district court in installments over a five-year period.
“Lights/Ultra Lights” Cases
▪Overview: Plaintiffs have sought certification of their cases as class actions, alleging among other things, that the uses of the terms “Lights” and/or “Ultra Lights” constitute deceptive and unfair trade practices, common law or statutory fraud, unjust enrichment or breach of warranty, and have sought injunctive and equitable relief, including restitution and, in certain cases, punitive damages. These class actions have been brought against PM USA and, in certain instances, Altria Group, Inc. or its other subsidiaries, on behalf of individuals who purchased and consumed various brands of cigarettes, including Marlboro Lights, Marlboro Ultra Lights, Virginia Slims Lights and Superslims, Merit Lights and Cambridge Lights. Defenses raised in these cases include lack of misrepresentation, lack of causation, injury and damages, the statute of limitations, non-liability under state statutory provisions exempting conduct that complies with federal regulatory directives, and the First Amendment. As of January 29, 2018, a total of three such cases are pending in various U.S. state courts, none of which is active.
▪State “Lights” Cases Dismissed, Not Certified or Ordered De-Certified: As of January 29, 2018, 21 state courts in 22 “Lights” cases have refused to certify class actions, dismissed class action allegations, reversed prior class certification decisions or have entered judgment in favor of PM USA.
▪State Trial Court Class Certifications: State trial courts have certified classes against PM USA in several jurisdictions. Over time, all such cases have been dismissed by the courts at the summary judgment stage, were settled by the parties or were resolved in favor of PM USA, including Larsen discussed below.
Larsen: In August 2005, a Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the class certification order. Trial in the case began in September 2011 and, in October 2011, the court declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict. Upon retrial, in April 2016, the jury returned a verdict in favor of PM USA. In August 2016, plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal and PM USA cross-appealed. In November 2016, the court of appeals dismissed PM USA’s cross-appeal without prejudice upon joint motion of the parties. On appeal, in November 2017, the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in favor of PM USA. Plaintiffs did not seek further appellate review, concluding this litigation.
Certain Other Tobacco-Related Litigation
▪Ignition Propensity Cases: PM USA and Altria Group, Inc. are currently facing litigation alleging that a fire caused by cigarettes led to individuals’ deaths. In a Kentucky case (Walker), the federal district court denied plaintiffs’ motion to remand the case to state court and dismissed plaintiffs’ claims in February 2009. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a notice of appeal. In October 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the portion of the district court decision that denied remand of the case to Kentucky state court and remanded the case to Kentucky