Appeals court in Kentucky upholds 1998 tobacco settlement

By Brett Barrouquere Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, KY. — A three-judge federal appeals panel in Kentucky has turned away a challenge from a defunct cigarette maker to a landmark 1998 national settlement between 46 states and 19 tobacco companies.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday found that the settlement didn’t amount to a conspiracy or anti-competitive behavior by the government. Now-shuttered General Tobacco of Mayodan, N.C., had attacked the settlement as a conspiracy.

Judge Eric Clay wrote that General Tobacco waived multiple rights when it signed on to the settlement in 2004.

The Master Settlement Agreement ultimately prevented companies from being sued by state governments for the costs of health care for smokers, but required a combination of yearly payments to states and restrictions on advertising. The settlement protected cigarette wholesalers and retailers from liability.