Philip Morris, Three Others Win Dismissal of Indian Tribes Suit

San Francisco, Nov. 18, 1999 (Bloomberg) -- Philip Morris Cos. and three other cigarette makers won dismissal of a suit which claimed American Indian tribes were wrongly excluded from the industry's $206 billion settlement with 46 U.S. states.

Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., British American Tobacco Plc's Brown & Williamson subsidiary, and Loews Corp.'s Lorillard tobacco unit had been accused of violating the tribes' due process and civil rights by taking Indian populations into account in last year's settlement without awarding the tribes any funds.

The suit, filed in June, sought class-action status and more than $1 billion in damages. In addition, the tribes wanted a court order prohibiting the companies from distributing any settlement proceeds that should've gone to the tribes. ``What the court found was that the Indian tribes could not bring this kind of generic claim when they didn't suffer any actual damages,'' said attorney Anna S. McLean, who represents Philip Morris, the world's largest tobacco company.

Named as plaintiffs in the suit were 19 American Indian tribes from states such as Ohio, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel dismissed the suit in a Nov. 12 order.

The tribes' lawyer, William Audet, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Shares of New York-based Philip Morris rose 1/16 to 25 15/16 on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares of R.J. Reynolds, based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, fell 5/16 to 22 5/8 on the New York Stock Exchange. American depositary receipts of British American Tobacco, based in London, fell 5/16 to 11 3/16 on the American Stock Exchange. Shares of New York-based Loews fell 1/8 to 66 3/16 on the New York Stock Exchange.