Tobacco Companies Win Dismissal of Lawsuits by Three Countries
Miami, Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Philip Morris Cos. and other U.S. tobacco companies won dismissal of lawsuits by three countries that sought to recoup tax revenue lost to cigarette smuggling, the company said.
U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno in Miami said the suits by Ecuador, Belize and Honduras shouldn't be heard in a U.S. court, Philip Morris said. U.S. law prohibits ``meddling in foreign affairs,'' the judge said.
Foreign governments have brought dozens of lawsuits in U.S. courts against tobacco companies, most seeking to recover the costs of treating victims of smoking-related illnesses. None so far has succeeded.
The suits by Ecuador, Belize and Honduras dismissed today claimed Philip Morris and other cigarette makers smuggled tobacco products into the countries to evade taxes and duties.
The tobacco industry has denied such suits have merit.
``We remain willing and ready to discuss the concrete steps that we have taken -- and additional ones that can be taken with the collaboration of serious governments -- to reduce, and hopefully eliminate the problem,'' said William Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris' vice president and associate general counsel.
Shares of New York-based Philip Morris, the largest tobacco company, rose 38 cents to $52.66. No. 2 U.S. cigarette maker R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. shares rose 58 cents to $65.65.