SOURCE: Altadis

December 15, 2006 13:13 ET

Altadis: The Rennes Court of Appeals Confirms Inadmissability of Claims by the Saint-Nazaire State Health Insurance Office Against Four Cigarette Manufacturers

PARIS -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 15, 2006 -- Altadis welcomes that its arguments have been heard and confirmed by the Rennes Appeals Court (Cour d'Appel), which has dismissed the claims of the Saint-Nazaire State Health Insurance Office (Caisse Primaire d'Assurance Maladie - CPAM) and the National State Health Insurance Office (CNAM). CNAM joined the action voluntarily. The Rennes Appeals Court thus confirmed in full the ruling by the Saint-Nazaire district court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) and ordered the CPAM to pay the legal costs.

The CPAM had filed for joint and several damages against Seita and three other tobacco manufacturers and claimed compensation of EUR 25.28 million to cover healthcare expenses stemming from tobacco use between April 1997 and May 2004. It had also claimed the payment of EUR 3.61 million a year as compensation for future damages, "as long as tobacco products fail to provide the public with the safety to which they are entitled". Lastly, the CPAM claimed compensation of EUR 214,114 corresponding to the cost of preventive measures as of January 29, 2004.

With this ruling, the court has reaffirmed that the CPAM and the CNAM, which are third-party payers, may not take direct legal action to obtain compensation for specific personal damages. They may only take subrogatory action to recover payments made to their insured parties once responsibility has been established.

Altadis hopes that this decision will put an end to attempts to take complaints to the courts in disregard of the regulatory framework applicable to the Social Security offices, as these offices are third-party payers and, as such, may not claim damages in connection with the amounts paid to their insured parties.

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