We filed this case on behalf of the State of Montana in the Spring of 2006.
The tobacco companies responded by moving to compel the case into a large, expensive arbitration involving more than 40 other states. Initially, the District Court in Helena agreed.
But by decision dated August 5, 2009, the Montana Supreme Court accepted the arguments in our appeal briefs, ruled that the case must proceed in the Montana court system, and remanded it for further proceedings. The Montana Supreme Court subsequently rejected the tobacco companies' petition for rehearing. We then helped with the preparation of a brief to the United States Supreme Court which persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court not to consider the tobacco companies' appeal from the Montana Supreme Court decisions.
When the case returned to Montana, the tobacco companies next asked the District Court in Helena to stay the Montana case until all of the other state cases had been heard in the multi-state arbitration in which Montana would not be participating. The District Court agreed with their arguments and stayed the case. We prepared a written petition for "supervisory control," asking the Montana Supreme Court to overturn the District Court's stay order.
The Montana Supreme Court issued its opinion today, accepting the arguments in our supervisory control petition and ruling that the Montana case must move forward now rather than waiting on the back burner until the end of the multi-state arbitration: