Court: Legacy Can Be Sued Under Master Agreement

WASHINGTON — A Delaware court ruled yesterday that the American Legacy Foundation can be sued under the terms of the Master Settlement Agreement with the attorneys general of 46 states.

The decision means the case filed by Lorillard Tobacco Company, which alleges that Legacy’s “truth” anti-smoking ads violate the Master Settlement Agreement, can now move forward. Lorillard sued Legacy last February claiming that under the terms of the agreement, Legacy is barred from “any personal attack on, or vilification of” tobacco companies or their employees.

Aware that Lorillard would likely sue, Legacy filed a preemptive suit last February arguing that the foundation itself was not a party to the original agreement and therefore not subject to its terms. The Deleware judge ruled on that suit yesterday.

“While we regret the court’s procedural decision, we remain proud of our work to reduce youth smoking and feel confident that we will ultimately be vindicated,” said Legacy president and CEO Cheryl Healton in a statement. “As a result of this situation, we will be forced to divert valuable resources from our critical work to reduce the deadly toll tobacco takes on our nation. However, the significant cost of this litigation will not deter us from our mission.”