Minnesota Files Lawsuit to Get Tobacco Company to Pay Up

March 29, 2018 06:15 AM

It was one of the largest legal cases in Minnesota history.

More than 20 years ago, the state of Minnesota took on big tobacco and won. 

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Part of the settlement agreement in that case required tobacco companies to pay the state every year forever, but now the state is suing because some of those payments have stopped. 

RELATED: MDH: Research Shows Raising Tobacco Sales Age Could Combat Rising Use among State's Youth

A lawsuit has been filed against ITG Brands, a company that acquired big tobacco brands like Kool, Winston, Salem and Maverick.

The suit claims ITG "has not joined the state's tobacco settlement and payments are not being made on sales of the transferred brands."

Big tobacco means big money to Minnesota. 

RELATED: Duluth, Mankato Latest Cities to Take Up Tobacco Product Debate 

The suit claims the past five payments from manufacturer defendants have been approximately $170 million dollars per year.

Wednesday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton said state attorney general Lori Swanson should do what it takes to get the state paid.

"She should go after them," Dayton said. "They've got an obligation to make their payments. They should darn well make their payments."

RELATED: Survey Shows Tobacco Use Increasing Among Youth

A spokesperson for ITG Brands issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:

"We have litigated this same issue in Florida and won," it read. "We are not able to offer specific comments on pending litigation, but look forward to vigorously defending our interests in Minnesota court."

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Ellen Galles

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