LANGUAGE

American Legacy Foundation v. Lorillard Tobacco

In this decision of the Supreme Court of Delaware, Lorillard Tobacco challenged the advertising of the American Legacy Foundation as a violation of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) between 46 states Attorney Generals and the nation’s largest tobacco companies.  The terms of the MSA created and funded Legacy to advocate against smoking and tobacco use, but also included limitations on how Legacy could advocate.  One of the limitations was that Legacy could not participate in "vilification" or "personal attacks" of the tobacco companies or their executives.  Among its advocacy efforts, Legacy developed an advertising campaign called “The Truth” (http://www.thetruth.com/) which created advertisements targeted at catching the attention of young people.  Lorillard challenged the ads as a violation of the MSA, claiming they vilified and personally attacked the company and its employees.   Agreeing with the Chancery Court, the Supreme Court held the advertisements did not meet the legal standard of vilification or personal attacks.  While expressly excluding the dictionary citations offered by the parties, the Court looked at the use of the words in prior case law to determine their legal meaning.  The Court found vilification to indicate strong negativity above disparagement and personal attacks to require specific individual targeting.  Applying these definitions to the challenged advertisements the Court agreed with the summary judgment of the trial court and dismissed Lorillard’s contract claim.