Minnesota settles lawsuit against 2 tobacco companies for $81M

The state of Minnesota has settled its lawsuit against two major tobacco companies for an agreed-upon sum of $81 million.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s Office announced the settlement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and ITG Brands on Thursday.

"Two decades ago, Big Tobacco made a commitment to the people of Minnesota. We fought and won to make sure they keep that commitment," Ellison said. "Defending the settlement and ensuring that the settling tobacco manufacturers cannot avoid accountability by selling off cigarette brands was and will remain a high priority for this Office."

The settlement ended a lawsuit over the companies’ failure to make annual payments as set under the state’s 1998 tobacco agreement.

Issues arose in 2015 after Reynolds transferred four cigarette brands to ITG Brands, which wasn’t part of the original agreement. After the transfer, Reynolds stopped including sales and profits on the transferred brands in its settlement calculations, and ITG Brands didn’t join the agreement. The state sued the companies in 2018 and the Ramsey County District Court ruled in favor of the state a year later.