(Rhonda Schulte, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Natrona County School District has officially accepted a settlement agreement with Juul/Altria, as announced at the School Board meeting on Sept. 25. The exact settlement amount for the NCSD has yet to be determined, as per Tanya Southerland, the public relations director for NCSD.

“We’re expecting a settlement in the range of $50,000 to $100,000. That has yet to be finalized,” Board Chair Ray Catellier said. “Though those dollars will go to the board priority funds and the board like all of our dollars would have to allocate those dollars to any other ideas that we would have in the future for where to use those dollars.”

Altria Group Inc. has revealed terms to settle at least 6,000 JUUL-related state and federal cases, amounting to $235 million. The settlement aims to resolve a wide range of lawsuits against the tobacco giant, according to the company website.

Murray Garnick, Altria’s executive vice president and general counsel, commented on the settlement.

“While we continue to believe the claims against us are meritless, we believe this settlement avoids the uncertainty and expense of a protracted legal process and is in the best interest of our shareholders,” Garnick stated on the company website. He added that the settlement would put to rest the majority of JUUL-related litigation faced by the company.

In October 2019, various federal individual- and class-action lawsuits connected to JUUL were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California for pretrial. Among these were approximately 50 economic class actions and 1,500 government entity actions, including around 1,400 cases from school districts like NCSD.

These cases fall under the recently agreed-upon settlement, alongside those in a related state court consolidated proceeding.

However, the settlement doesn’t apply to specific cases such as those brought by attorneys general, those brought by Native American tribes, antitrust cases or Canadian cases.

Final settlement agreements are still pending and will need approval from the relevant courts.

Altria plans to record a pre-tax charge of $235 million for the second quarter of 2023, treating it as a special item, and will exclude this charge from its adjusted diluted earnings per share.