Court Requires Tobacco Firm to Hand Over Key Documents

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is hearing the U.S. government’s $280-billion racketeering lawsuit against major tobacco companies, has ordered a unit of British American Tobacco to hand over a key document that the company has been fighting to keep as privileged information, Fox News reported June 1.

Kessler has given British American Tobacco Investments Ltd until June 4 to submit to the court a 1990 memorandum written by Andrew Foyle, an outside attorney who had advised the company on its document-retention policy.

The Justice Department said the document is necessary for its racketeering case. Kessler agreed, saying that the memorandum contains advice to a BAT subsidiary in Australia “regarding modification of its document-retention policy in light of increasing litigation against tobacco companies in the United States and Australia.”

The document came to light during a 2002 case before the Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia.

Kessler also wrote in her opinion that, “BATCo’s actions in the course of its dogged fight against release of the Foyle memorandum constitute inexcusable conduct.”