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To***co Cos. To Pay $200M To End Texas' Settlement Fight

Texas notified a federal court Wednesday that R.J. Reynolds To***co Co. and fellow to***co company ITG Brands LLC have agreed to pay a total of more than $200 million to end the state's suit to enforce a 1998 to***co settlement agreement.

Reynolds agreed to pay Texas roughly $173 million in funds owed to the state under the 1998 to***co master settlement for the years 2015 through 2020, plus $2.5 million in attorney fees. ITG agreed to pay Texas about $19 million for payments owed to the state in 2020, according to court documents. Reynolds has also agreed to pay about $17 million to to***co giant Philip Morris USA Inc., which joined the dispute and sided with Texas.

The settlement agreement filed in the Eastern District of Texas on Wednesday ends litigation launched by Texas in January 2019 after both Reynolds and ITG refused to make annual payments under the 1998 settlement agreement. That agreement requires to***co companies to pay annual amounts based on their cigarette sales in the state to cover costs incurred by Texas for to***co-related health issues.

Reynolds sold its Winston, Salem, Kool and Maverick cigarette brands to ITG in 2015, after which both companies denied responsibility and refused to make the payments, according to court documents. ITG, which was not a party to the original litigation, claimed it didn't assume any payment obligations through the sale.

Under Wednesday's agreement, ITG has agreed to assume all obligations and benefits for the four brands moving forward.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Texas originally sued The American To***co Co., Reynolds and nine other to***co companies, including Philip Morris, in 1996 for not being truthful about the dangers of smoking. Those claims were settled in 1998 for more than $15 billion, which included annual payments based upon sales in the state.

But after the 2015 deal between Reynolds and ITG, Texas moved in January 2019 to enforce the 1998 settlement agreement and reopened the litigation.

The Texas attorney general told the federal court in its motion to enforce the settlement that ITG owed the state about $125 million after its 2015 acquisition of the four brands, saying it had taken over the obligation to make payments under the settlement Reynolds had signed on to.

Philip Morris joined the reopened case, arguing in a February 2019 filing that ITG's faulty accounting practices in reporting sales to PricewaterhouseCoopers — the accounting firm responsible for calculating settlement payments — had "improperly shifted over $60 million" in its payment obligations to Philip Morris.

In February 2020, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap ruled that Reynolds couldn't escape its obligation to make payments after its sale of the four brands to ITG.

The 2015 sale of the Reynolds brands to ITG was part of a divestment deal to get Federal Trade Commission approval for a $47 billion takeover of Reynolds by British American To***co PLC. The FTC was concerned that the transaction would make it easier for Reynolds and Philip Morris USA owner Altria Group Inc. to coordinate cigarette sales as the only two major competitors in the market.

Texas is represented by Christopher D. Hilton and Cynthia A. Morales of the Office of the Texas Attorney General.



According to Bloomberg’s Recession Tracker, the likelihood of a recession within the next year rose to 53% this month, up from 28% just a month ago. Meanwhile, other analysts are predicting that a global recession is already upon us. With the new coronavirus causing unpredictable turbulence in the markets and forcing consumers to sequester themselves at home, possibly losing wages and curbing spending, it seems more likely that the long-awaited recession is now on our doorsteps.

If we are truly on the verge of recession, what could that mean for bankruptcies?

For the first time in a decade, bankruptcy filings are on the rise. And there are several factors that could cause an even further increase. For More Information and to find out if Bankruptcy is the right choice for you call today.



Mardi Gras in New Orleans typically means dancing in the streets, standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, and watching one parade after another roll by while slowly becoming a human bead tree. But Mardi Gras 2021 will be different.

Parades won’t roll. There will be no large crowds or events. The health and safety of our community is a priority, but that doesn’t mean Mardi Gras is canceled.


LG Chem Unit Must Face Exploding Battery Suit In NJ
A New Jersey state judge refused Friday to toss claims a LG Chem Ltd. unit is responsible for a battery in an e-cigarette that exploded in a man's pants, instead giving him a chance to ensure he's suing the proper company, citing the harm caused by such batteries in the state.

During a Zoom hearing, Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury denied without prejudice LG Chem America Inc.'s bid to escape Anthony Ventralla's suit after the subsidiary's attorney had indicated that, if the battery in question was manufactured by an LG Chem entity, it would have been the South Korean parent.

The judge said "the fact of the matter is the defendant here or another related company, as we found out today ... their batteries are in the state of New Jersey hurting people."

"I cannot in good conscience just say, 'OK, you're not in the case, go ahead,' because I know the damage that's being created, and I wouldn't be much of a judge if I didn't do what I could to try and protect other people from being hurt," said Judge Hansbury, adding that "there's not sufficient basis for me to conclude jurisdiction at this point in time."

Ventralla and his wife and fellow plaintiff, Alison Lenihan, will have 90 days to conduct jurisdictional discovery to make sure they're suing the appropriate defendant and find out how the batteries are getting into the Garden State, according to the judge. The judge pointed to similar cases around the state that involve the batteries.

"Those batteries are here, they're hurting people and if this defendant has sufficient jurisdictional connection to New Jersey, then so be it. He's here for a while. But I can't say that today," the judge said.

Ventralla has claimed that an "LG HG2 battery" was included in the Aspire e-vaping device that he bought at Good Guy V**es in Rockaway, New Jersey, according to his June 5 complaint against that retailer, Aspire V**e Co., and LG Chem America. The complaint said LG Chem America designed, manufactured or produced the battery.

Following his purchase, the exterior wrapping of the battery began to tear, the complaint said. Good Guy V**es rewrapped the battery and told Ventralla that it was safe to use the e-cigarette, the complaint said. On July 2, 2018, the battery exploded and caused him to suffer second-degree burns, according to the complaint.

In seeking to dismiss the claims against LG Chem America, the business has asserted its sales in New Jersey are limited to petrochemical products — such as engineered plastic and specialty polymers — and that it does not manufacture the batteries at issue in the case.

"Where Good Guy V**es obtained the battery from, we don't know, but it did not come from LG Chem America Inc. in this matter," the company's attorney told Judge Hansbury during Friday's hearing.

LG Chem America "never manufactured, designed or sold the incident battery cell that's alleged to be involved in this case,".

Rehberger later noted that he had told the plaintiffs' counsel in a letter that, if the battery was a LG Chem battery, it would have been manufactured by the parent company and that LG Chem America thus had no liability in the case and should be dismissed.

"Setting aside ... the issue of jurisdiction, just so I understand, are you saying he has the wrong defendant? Is that what you're saying?" the judge asked Rehberger, who replied, "Yes."

Ventralla's attorney later pointed to the challenge of untangling LG Chem's corporate structure, saying there's a "maze" of entities.

"Perhaps that's by design to try to avoid responsibility for their products, but we feel there's ample evidence, certainly at this stage ... without any discovery, to allow this case to continue against LG Chem America in this matter," Leonard told the judge.

After Judge Hansbury cited the lack of evidence tying LG Chem America to the batteries, Leonard said "it's our understanding that these products were made by LG Chem America or they had involvement."

"That's part of the challenge that we have as a plaintiff, without any discovery, is we don't have the information specifically dealing with ... that issue," Leonard added.


World Nutella Day was first celebrated in 2007. The idea for the day came from Sara Rosso who was an American blogger who was living in Italy at the time. What made her think to start World Nutella Day? Why her love of the product of course! The fans of Nutella embraced the day with gusto and took the joy of the day to social media around the world!


Bankruptcy in Chapter 7 will provide you with the debt relief you need and give you a fresh start without being hounded by your creditors and debt collectors and without being tormented by the lawsuits they file against you.

It will also stop creditors from taking away your possession, assets, and income if they obtain a Judgment against you and begin to execute on the Judgment by garnishing your wages or levying/attaching your assets and possessions.

As soon as you file bankruptcy the law called the automatic stay will stop all collections and phone calls, collection letters, and any garnishments and protect your assets and possessions from the levies, even your secured assets.

Creditors who are secured can ask the bankruptcy court to obtain relief from the automatic stay and then start repossessing their secured asset if you are not current on the monthly payments, but the automatic stay can delay their repossession/foreclosure actions for several weeks or months.

That could give you time to catch up on the payments or do what you need to do to obtain some assets or income. Call us Today for a Free Consultation at (405) 616-4949

or visit us online at


Hiring a lawyer increases your chances of successfully eliminating debt.

An annual report published by the United States Bankruptcy Court shows that individuals representing themselves (pro se) have a significantly lower bankruptcy success rate than individuals represented by a lawyer.

In the case of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, debtors represented by a lawyer are more than ten times more likely to reach a successful outcome than individuals representing themselves.

For More Information and a Free Bankruptcy Consultation please call (405) 616-4949

or visit us online at


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is available to individuals, married couples, corporations and partnerships. It is commonly known as a Liquidation Proceeding. In theory, all of the debtors’ assets are sold and the proceeds are distributed among the creditors. In practice, most debtors, if not all, keep their assets while discharging their debts.
However, to achieve the best results, any Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case must be carefully planned and executed by a lawyer.
Chapter 7 Debtors may obtain discharge only once every eight years. However, debtors may still file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy or other types of bankruptcy cases to avoid collections, garnishment and other creditors’ actions.
Generous exemptions are available to protect some assets like cars, tools, books, jewelry, fi****ms, clothing, most retirement accounts (401K and IRA accounts), personal items, collectables and other items via available Federal or State Exemptions.
The vast majority of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy cases are “no assets” and clients, where people may have no assets outside of the available exemptions to liquidate. People save their assets, while discharging most of their debts.


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Your Most Trusted Bankruptcy Attorney in Lawton & Oklahoma City, OK

Even though it may feel like it, bankruptcy is not the end of the world, especially when you have the right team to help you. In Oklahoma City, OK, Lawton, OK, and the surrounding areas, Jeffrey E. West. will help you consider your options for getting out of debt and filing for bankruptcy.

The decision to declare bankruptcy is one of the most difficult choices our clients ever face. As debts mount and creditors become more aggressive, the need for a reasonable resolution to your problems becomes more pressing. At Jeffrey E. West, we help clients with the issues they face when filing bankruptcy. As a U.S. Veteran and local Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney, Jeff West is dedicated to giving his clients the personal attention and high-quality representation they deserve.

For twenty years, we have been helping Oklahomans with consumer bankruptcy issues. We handle Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and bankruptcy litigation and appeals work. We are a small firm that is dedicated to helping you navigate the complicated world of bankruptcy law in Oklahoma City. We take fewer cases in order to provide the personal attention and support that our clients need to get through the bankruptcy process.

Our clients often find themselves unable to make monthly payments without borrowing from credit cards. Some are out of work, behind on their taxes, or facing medical costs that they simply cannot meet. The decision to look into bankruptcy often comes when a family is faced with foreclosure actions and repossessions. If this is where you find yourself, you need an Oklahoma bankruptcy lawyer with the knowledge and talent to protect you and give you sound advice. We can help you figure out how to get through the bankruptcy process to a solution that meets your needs.

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