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Health News Florida

RJR Tobacco Payment Fight Goes To Florida Supreme Court

pack of cigarettes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. has gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a case about whether it is responsible for paying more than $100 million in a dispute stemming from a landmark 1997 settlement between Florida and the tobacco industry.

R.J. Reynolds filed a notice last week that it was appealing a July 29 ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal, according to documents posted Monday on the Supreme Court website. As is common, the notice does not detail arguments R.J. Reynolds will make at the Supreme Court.

The case has centered on arguments by R.J. Reynolds that it should not be required to make payments to the state related to four brands of cigarettes - Salem, Winston, Kool and Maverick - that it sold to another company, ITG Brands.

But the appeals court in July upheld a decision by a Palm Beach County circuit judge, who said R.J. Reynolds remained on the hook for the payments under the 1997 settlement in which cigarette- makers agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the state because of smoking-related health costs and, in exchange, received liability protections.

The appeals court ruling said the circuit judge ordered R.J. Reynolds to pay $92.6 million to the state and $9.8 million to Philip Morris USA, another tobacco company that became involved in the case because of increased payment obligations it faced.

Philip Morris also was part of the 1997 settlement.