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Judge rules for state in tobacco lawsuit

JACKSON COUNTY — Attorney General Jim Hood’s lawsuit against Brown & Williamson (B&W) Tobacco Corporation received an $8 million victory in court.

Judge Jaye A. Bradley, in the Chancery Court of Jackson County, issued a ruling on Hood’s motion to enforce settlement against B&W.

The original tobacco settlement requires the company to pay Mississippi for every cigarette it makes and ships. Hood argued that B&W made cigarettes but shipped them to a third-party manufacturer, STAR. STAR tobacco then sold those cigarettes to consumers in Mississippi.

“The Court agreed with our position that B&W could not use such trickery to avoid paying Mississippi for those cigarettes,” said Hood.

Accoording to Hood, Judge Bradley’s ruling stated: “There is no dispute that during the time period of 1999 through 2002, B&W manufactured and shipped to STAR more than 7.5 billion cigarettes. Further, there is no dispute that during the relevant time period at least 600 million STAR cigarettes were sold in Mississippi. However, B&W did not include these STAR cigarettes within their calculations for payments made to Mississippi pursuant to the settlement agreement.”

Bradley ordered B&W to pay approximately $8.1 million to the state. It also ordered the company to pay all the state’s attorneys fees and costs. The court also stated that it would hold in abeyance awarding any punitive damages until it determines how much B&W owes on other matters that were raised in the litigation.

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