The landmark lawsuit was filed by the Brazilian solicitor general's office (AGU) against British American Tobacco Plc (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) last year with the aim of recovering public health costs for the treatment of 26 tobacco-related illnesses. The companies have so far refused to accept the subpoenas that were delivered to their local subsidiaries last year, according to Reuters.
Souza Cruz Ltda, Philip Morris Brasil Industria e Comercio Ltda and Philip Morris Brasil SA said that all notifications had to be sent directly to the companies' headquarters and not the subsidiaries. Federal judge Graziela Bündchen has now ruled that the subsidiaries are responsible for passing information on to their head offices and has given the companies 30 days to present their defenses.
According to Reuters, the AGU said in a statement that the cigarette companies had tried to delay the lawsuit, which will now be able to proceed in seeking “the just compensation the Brazilian people deserve.”