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Home News Altria settles vast majority of Juul-related lawsuits for $235 million

Altria settles vast majority of Juul-related lawsuits for $235 million

May 11, 2023

JUUL Labs Virginia tobacco and menthol flavored vaping e-cigarette products are displayed in a convenience store on June 23, 2022 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

Altria Group has on Wednesday said they have reached agreement on terms to resolve at least 6,000 Juul-related state and federal cases in the US for $235 million (£187m).

“While we continue to believe the claims against us are meritless, we believe this settlement avoids the uncertainty and expense of a protracted legal process and is in the best interest of our shareholders,” said Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president and general counsel.

“This settlement brings to a close the vast majority of our pending Juul-related litigation.”

In March, Altria has divested its minority stake in the Juul Labs, exchanging it for a non-exclusive, irrevocable global license to certain of Juul’s heated tobacco intellectual property.

Billy Gifford, Altria’s chief executive, cited the ‘significant regulatory and legal challenges and uncertainties’ faced by Juul at the time of its exit from the c-cigarette brand.

Later in the same month, Altria announced the acquisition of leading US vape firm NJOY Holdings.

Last month, Juul agreed to pay $462m to six states and the District of Columbia in the latest of its settlements of charges that it violated numerous laws in marketing tobacco products to youth.

This followed a settlement of $438.5m with 34 US states in September last year and with about 10,000 plaintiffs covering more than 5,000 cases in California in December, which according to a Bloomberg News report was worth $1.2 billion.

In October 2019, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the coordination or consolidation of federal individual and class action lawsuits related to Juul in the US. District Court for the Northern District of California for pretrial purposes. These cases include approximately 50 economic class actions, approximately 4,500 personal injury actions and approximately 1,500 government entity actions, including approximately 1,400 school district cases. These cases are covered by the agreement as well as cases in a related state court consolidated proceeding involving 750 cases.

Altria said its settlement does not apply to three cases brought by attorneys general, 35 cases brought by Native American tribes, 17 antitrust cases or three Canadian cases.

Altria in late 2018 invested about $13bn in Juul, a stake that has been written down several times as Juul has faced various government crackdowns. As of December 31, 2022, the carrying value and estimated fair value of Altria’s Juul investment was $250m.