Court rules tobacco company owes Minnesota millions after failing to pay tobacco-settlement fees

The Ramsey County District Court ruled R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company wrongfully failed to pay Minnesota millions of dollars under the terms of the State's 1998 tobacco settlement, according to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.

The court will be determining the amount owed in the coming months.

The issue stems from 2015 when Reynolds merged with Lorillard, another tobacco company involved in the 1998 settlement. In that merger, Reynolds transferred KOOL, Maverick, Salem and Winston brands to ITG Brands, which was not a part of the 1998 settlement. After the merger, Reynolds stopped including the sales from those brands as a part of their settlement-payment calculations. Minnesota sued Reynolds and ITG last year to hold them liable for continued payments.

The Court determined Reynolds is responsible for the payments and pointed to the tobacco settlement, which stated the payments are required even if brands are assigned to another entity.