Okla. AG Sues Tobacco Companies

May 30, 2006

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office reported it has filed lawsuits in Oklahoma County District Court against three tobacco manufacturers for violating an Oklahoma law stemming from the 1998 tobacco settlement

Oklahoma enacted a “non-participating manufacturer” law in 1999 requiring tobacco companies who chose not to join the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) to pay into an escrow fund. Manufacturers who sell tobacco products in Oklahoma are subject to the statute. The required payment is roughly equal to what a company would have paid had it joined the MSA and is used to fund any future legal claims the state may have against the company.

Prime Mover, Tabacalera Honnington and Tabacalera Nazionale are accused of failing to properly fund the required escrow account. Prime Mover, of the Phillipines, manufactures cigarettes under the brand names Desert Sun, Melbourne and Unify. Tabacalera Honnington, of Paraguay, manufactures cigarettes under the brand name Parker. Tabacalera Nazionale, of Paraguay, manufactures cigarettes under the brand name Infinity.

The lawsuits seek to force the companies to comply with Oklahoma law by fully funding the required escrow accounts. Oklahoma law requires non-participating manufacturers to make a yearly payment to the escrow account based on the previous year’s product sales.

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