Altria Group Inc. has come to an agreement on terms to resolve at least 6,000 JUUL-related state and federal cases for $235 million.
“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 October 2019, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation 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 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.
This 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 settlement remains subject to the parties entering into one or more final settlement agreements approved by the relevant courts.
Altria expects to record a pre-tax charge of $235 million in the second quarter of 2023 and intends to treat such amount as a special item and exclude it from its adjusted diluted earnings per share.
Altria’s wholly owned subsidiaries include manufacturers of both combustible and smoke-free products. In combustibles, it owns Philip Morris USA Inc. and John Middleton Co. Its smoke-free portfolio includes ownership of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC and Helix Innovations LLC.
Additionally, Altria has a majority-owned joint venture, Horizon Innovations LLC, for the U.S. marketing and commercialization of heated tobacco stick products and, through a separate agreement, it has the exclusive U.S. commercialization rights to the IQOS Tobacco Heating System and Marlboro HeatSticks through April 2024.