Tobacco

Altria Agrees to $235 Million Settlement in Juul-Related Cases

Tobacco company maintains claims are ‘meritless’
Court documents
Photograph: Shutterstock

Altria Group Inc., Richmond, Virginia, has reached an agreement to resolve at least 6,000 Juul-related state and federal cases for $235 million.

The lawsuits accused Altria of fueling a teen vaping epidemic through its former investment in Juul Labs, Reuters reported. Altria in March dropped the San Francisco-based e-cigarette company and entered into an agreement to acquire another e-cigarette maker, Njoy Holdings Inc.

“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,” Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement Wednesday. “This settlement brings to a close the vast majority of our pending Juul-related litigation.”

A U.S. panel on multidistrict litigation in October 2019 ordered the coordination or consolidation of federal individual and class action lawsuits related to Juul in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for pretrial purposes.

These cases include about 50 economic class actions, 4,500 personal injury actions and 1,400 school district cases, Altria said. The agreement also covers 750 cases in a related state court consolidated proceeding.

The 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, the company said.

Juul Labs has also settled more than 5,000 lawsuits via a consolidation of claims in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The resolution reached in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) and related “Juul Labs Product Cases” covers more than 5,000 cases brought by approximately 10,000 plaintiffs against Juul Labs and its officers and directors.

While not offering details, Juul said these cases, and subject to the resolution, come from the following groups: personal injury, consumer class action, government entity and Native American tribes.

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