Philip Morris USA said it and other cigarette makers will release to 17 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico their portions of more than $4 billion in payments held back from a 1998 settlement agreement.
That 14-year-old, 46-state accord required the tobacco companies to pay $206 billion to resolve their liability in health-care cost litigation. A dispute later arose over more than $7 billion due under the deal for the years 2003 to 2012, stemming from claims that market-share erosion reduced the amount of the companies’ obligation.
“This agreement resolves disputes with a large group of states on financial terms that are fair to the parties and in a way that we believe will lead to a better method for resolving these issues in the future,” Denise Keane, general counsel to Altria Group Inc. (MO), the parent of Philip Morris, said today in a statement.
Philip Morris’ credit against future payments is worth an estimated $450 million, according to its press statement. Greensboro, North Carolina-based Lorillard said its credit is worth about $198 million over the next five years.
Reynolds American said its five year credit could be worth more than $1 billion.
Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris, confirmed that state’s participation in the accord in a phone interview today.
Amy Rezzonico, a spokeswoman for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking confirmation of the agreement and comment on it.
Wyoming Attorney General Gregory Phillips also didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
Other states joining in the agreement include Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
States participating in the 1998 accord have already received more than $85 billion, according to the statement issued by Richmond, Virginia-based Altria.
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