Court: Tennessee can't sue foreign tobacco company

Tenn. Supreme Court says state can't sue foreign tobacco company to collect payments

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in a split opinion that the state could not sue an Indonesian cigarette manufacturer to collect payments as a part of a 1998 settlement with the nation's largest tobacco manufacturers.

The state of Tennessee sued NV Sumatra Tobacco Trading Company to collect about $168,000 in payments to the Tennessee Tobacco Manufacturers' Escrow Fund. That fund was set up as a part of an agreement between cigarette manufacturers and dozens of states, including Tennessee.

Tennessee requires that manufacturers who did not join that settlement must make payments that can be used to pay damages for any successful cigarette-related claims brought against them.

The court ruled in a 3-2 majority opinion released Thursday that Tennessee courts did not have jurisdiction over the Indonesian cigarette manufacturer.

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