Court Rules over 'Camel Cash' Case
Declares RJ Reynolds activity was in line with legally binding liability.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court has brought to life assertions that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco infringed its obligations with its customers when it discontinued its famous Camel Cash campaign in 2006, according to the Courthouse News Service report.
The cigarette maker boosted market share of its flagship Camel cigarette brand by almost 50 percent during the campaign which lasted for 15 years. The Camel Cash program allowed exchanging cigarette packs with certain coupons which Camel smokers were able to redeem for gifts.
However, when the company discontinued the rewards program in 2006, many smokers complained they had thousands coupons left, which had no value anymore, the court documents said.
It prompted ten California residents to file a lawsuit against RJ Reynolds, asserting that the tobacco company had violated its contract obligations when it discontinued the Camel Cash program.
The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, presided by Judge Christina Snyder rejected the case for absence of valid claim.
Last Friday, the 9th Circuit Appeals Court partially reversed previous ruling, permitting the plaintiffs’ claims to proceed. R.J. Reynolds had stated that the Camel Cash program should have been regarded as an “invitation to use an offer, not an “offer itself.” The tobacco group as well stated that, “even in case it was regarded as an offer, any contract evolved from that offer from it would be too broad to be enforced,” according to the court.
However, these assertions were not enough to persuade the Appeals Court three-judge panel.
Judge Raymond Fisher ruled that the assertions in the plaintiffs’ complaint prove the inference that both parties meant to be in contract, since the plaintiffs, who participated in the Camel Cash reward program, bought Camel cigarettes and changed them in Camel Cash coupons. RJ Reynolds used certain customers’ registration forms, provided enrollment numbers, carried out the rewards program during 15 years, and considered the coupons as binding liability and financial obligation, according to the company’s internal documentation. In addition, the documents, provided by the RJR demonstrated the company monitored the customers participation in the program, and even created a department and financial means to cover the rewards program – activity in line with a legally binding obligation.
A spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, the second largest cigarette maker across the nation, declared the company would not comment on the pending lawsuit.
The litigation in the 9th Circuit Appeals Court is Amanda Sateriale et al., individually and on behalf of all others equally involved vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.