The U.S. Supreme Court declined Tuesday to hear a petition filed by a unit of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., meaning there could be a resolution this year to a 13-year-old lawsuit led by Richard Tatum of Winston-Salem against the RJR Pension Investment committee.
Tatum’s lawsuit involves Reynolds’ former affiliation with Nabisco and potentially affects 3,549 current and former employees.
Tatum attorney Robert Elliot, of Elliot Morgan Parsonage in Winston-Salem, said “the plaintiffs have proven damages in excess of $50 million, which would be increased due to the passage of time since trial.”
Reynolds had asked for a writ of certiorari, which is a kind of judicial review. Typically, a conference is held by the justices to decide whether to grant the petition. At least four justices have to agree to hear the case for it to move forward.
The decision comes about a month after the U.S. Solicitor General’s Office recommended the Supreme Court not address the petition. Reynolds filed its writ of certiorari in December, with a Supreme Court briefing completed in March.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in August. The case now returns to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of N.C.