Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES

v3.21.2
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
9 Months Ended
Sep. 30, 2021
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES  
COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES

NOTE 11. - COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES

License agreements and sponsored research – The Company has entered into various license, sponsored research, collaboration, and other agreements (the “Agreements”) with various counter parties in connection with the Company’s plant biotechnology business relating to tobacco and hemp/cannabis. The schedule below summarizes the Company’s commitments, both financial and other, associated with each Agreement. Costs incurred under the Agreements are generally recorded as research and development expenses on the Company’s Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss.

Future Commitments

Commitment

 

Counter Party

 

Product Relationship

 

Commitment Type

 

2021

 

2022

 

2023

 

2024

 

2025 & After

 

Total

    

Research Agreement

KeyGene

Hemp / Cannabis

Contract fee

$

115

$

1,150

$

1,200

$

1,227

$

2,893

$

6,585

(1)

License Agreement

NCSU

Tobacco

Annual royalty fee

68

225

293

(2), (3)

License Agreement

NCSU

Tobacco

Minimum annual royalty

7

50

50

50

600

757

(3)

License Agreement

NCSU

Tobacco

Minimum annual royalty

14

50

50

50

500

664

(3)

Sublicense Agreement

Anandia Laboratories, Inc.

Hemp / Cannabis

Annual license fee

10

10

10

10

110

150

(4)

Research Agreement

Cannametrix

Hemp / Cannabis

Contract fee

51

50

101

(5)

Growing Agreement

Various

Various

Contract fee

127

38

165

(6)

Consulting Agreement

Various

Various

Contract fee

119

286

405

(7)

$

511

$

1,859

$

1,310

$

1,337

$

4,103

$

9,120

(1) Exclusive agreement with the Company with respect to the Cannabis Sativa L. plant (the "Field"). The initial term of the agreement was five years with an option for an additional two years. On April 30, 2021, the Company and KeyGene entered into a First Amended and Restated Framework Collaborative Research Agreement which extended the agreement term, from first-quarter 2024 to first-quarter 2027, and preserves the Company’s option for an additional 2-year extension, now through first quarter of 2029.

The Company will exclusively own all results and all intellectual property relating to the results of the collaboration with KeyGene (the "Results”). The Company will pay royalties in varying amounts to KeyGene relating to the Company's commercialization in the Field of certain Results. The Company has also granted KeyGene a license to commercialize the Results outside of the Field and KeyGene will pay royalties in varying amounts to the Company relating to KeyGene's commercialization of the Results outside of the Field.

(2) The license agreement also requires a milestone payment of $150 upon FDA approval or clearance of a product that uses the NCSU licensed technology. The annual royalty fee is credited against running royalties on sales of licensed products.
(3) The Company is also responsible for reimbursing NSCU for actual third-party patent costs incurred, including capitalized patent costs and patent maintenance costs. These costs vary from year to year and the Company has certain rights to direct the activities that result in these costs.
(4) The Company is also responsible for the payment of certain costs, including, capitalized patent costs and patent maintenance costs, a running royalty on future net sales of products made from the sublicensed intellectual property, and a sharing of future sublicensing consideration received from sublicensing to third parties in all countries except for Canada. Anandia retains all patent rights, and is responsible for all patent maintenance, in Canada.
(5) On March 1, 2021, the Company entered into a 14-month research agreement with Cannametrix for hemp/cannabis product development, formulation, and validation.
(6) Various R&D growing and consulting agreements for hemp / cannabis and tobacco.
(7) General corporate consulting agreements.

Modified Risk Tobacco Product Application (“MRTP Application”) – In connection with the Company’s MRTP Application for its Very Low Nicotine Content (“VLNC”) cigarettes with the FDA, the Company has entered in various contracts with third-party service providers to fulfill various requirements of the MRTP Application. Such contracts include services for clinical trials, perception studies, legal guidance, product testing, and consulting expertise. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2021, the Company incurred expenses relating to these contracts in the approximate amount of $2 and $16, respectively, and $4 and $158 for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2020, respectively. The Company will continue to incur consulting and legal expenses as the MRTP Application continues through the FDA review process. The Company cannot currently quantify the additional expenses that the Company will incur in the FDA review process because it will involve various factors that are within the discretion and control of the FDA.

Litigation - In accordance with applicable accounting guidance, the Company establishes an accrued liability for litigation and regulatory matters when those matters present loss contingencies that are both probable and estimable. In such cases, there may be an exposure to loss in excess of any amounts accrued. When a loss contingency is not both probable and estimable, the Company does not establish an accrued liability. As a litigation or regulatory matter develops, the Company, in conjunction with any outside counsel handling the matter, evaluates on an ongoing basis whether such matter presents a loss contingency that is probable and estimable. If, at the time of evaluation, the loss contingency related to a litigation or regulatory matter is not both probable and estimable, the matter will continue to be monitored for further developments that would make such loss contingency both probable and estimable. When a loss contingency related to a litigation or regulatory matter is deemed to be both probable and estimable, the Company will establish an accrued liability with respect to such loss contingency and record a corresponding amount of related expenses. The Company will then continue to monitor the matter for further developments that could affect the amount of any such accrued liability. 

Class Action

On January 21, 2019, Matthew Jackson Bull, a resident of Denver, Colorado, filed a Complaint against the Company, the Company’s then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, and the Company’s then Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entitled: Matthew Bull, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. 22nd Century Group, Inc., Henry Sicignano III, and John T. Brodfuehrer, Case No. 1:19 cv 00409.

On January 29, 2019, Ian M. Fitch, a resident of Essex County Massachusetts, filed a Complaint against the Company, the Company’s then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, and the Company’s then Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entitled: Ian Fitch, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. 22nd Century Group, Inc., Henry Sicignano III, and John T. Brodfuehrer, Case No. 2:19 cv 00553.

On May 28, 2019, the plaintiff in the Fitch case voluntarily dismissed that action. On August 1, 2019, the Court in the Bull case issued an order designating Joseph Noto, Garden State Tire Corp, and Stephens Johnson as lead plaintiffs.

On September 16, 2019, pursuant to a joint motion by the parties, the Court in the Bull case transferred the class action to federal district court in the Western District of New York, where it remains pending as Case No. 1:19-cv-01285.

Plaintiffs in the Bull case filed an Amended Complaint on November 19, 2019 that alleges three counts: Count I sues the Company and Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer and alleges that the Company's quarterly and annual reports, SEC filings, press releases and other public statements and documents contained false statements in violation of Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b-5; Count II sues Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer pursuant to Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b5(a) and (c); and Count III sues Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer for the allegedly false statements pursuant to Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act. The Amended Complaint seeks to certify a class, and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs.

On January 29, 2020, the Company and Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer filed a Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint. On July 31, 2020, the Court heard oral arguments on the motion to dismiss. On January 14, 2021, the Court granted motion, dismissing all claims with prejudice. The Plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on February 12, 2021 to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Second Circuit has granted an expedited briefing schedule and Plaintiff’s/Appellant’s was filed on April 12, 2021 and the Company’s was filed on May 17, 2021. The Second Circuit heard oral arguments on September 2, 2021 and the matter remains pending with the Second Circuit.

We believe that the claims are frivolous, meritless and that the Company and Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer have substantial legal and factual defenses to the claims. We intend to vigorously defend the Company and Messrs. Sicignano and Brodfuehrer against such claims.

Shareholder Derivative Cases

On February 6, 2019, Melvyn Klein, a resident of Nassau County New York, filed a shareholder derivative claim against the Company, the Company’s then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, and each member of the Company’s Board of Directors in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York entitled: Melvyn Klein, derivatively on behalf of 22nd Century Group v. Henry Sicignano, III, Richard M. Sanders, Joseph Alexander Dunn, Nora B. Sullivan, James W. Cornell, John T. Brodfuehrer and 22nd Century Group, Inc., Case No. 1:19 cv 00748. Mr. Klein brings this action derivatively alleging that (i) the director defendants supposedly breached their fiduciary duties for allegedly allowing the Company to make false statements; (ii) the director defendants supposedly wasted corporate assets to defend this lawsuit and the other related lawsuits; (iii) the defendants allegedly violated Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 10b 5 promulgated thereunder for allegedly approving or allowing false statements regarding the Company to be made; and (iv) the director defendants allegedly violated Section 14(a) of the Securities Exchange Act and Rule 14a 9 promulgated thereunder for allegedly approving or allowing false statements regarding the Company to be made in the Company’s proxy statement.

On February 11, 2019, Stephen Mathew filed a shareholder derivative claim against the Company, the Company’s then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, and each member of the Company’s Board of Directors in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Erie, entitled: Stephen Mathew, derivatively on behalf of 22nd Century Group, Inc. v. Henry Sicignano, III, John T. Brodfuehrer, Richard M. Sanders, Joseph Alexander Dunn, James W. Cornell, Nora B. Sullivan and 22nd Century Group, Inc., Index No. 801786/2019. Mr. Mathew brings this action derivatively generally alleging the same allegations as in the Klein case. The Complaint seeks declaratory relief, unspecified monetary damages, corrective corporate governance actions, and attorney’s fees and costs. On August 15, 2019, the Court consolidated the Mathew and Klein actions pursuant to a stipulation by the parties (Western District of New York, Case No. 1-19-cv-0513). We believe that the claims are frivolous, meritless and that the Company and the individual defendants have substantial legal and factual defenses to the claims. We intend to vigorously defend the Company and the individual defendants against such claims.

On June 10, 2019, Judy Rowley filed a shareholder derivative claim against the Company, the Company’s then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, and each member of the Company’s Board of Directors in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Erie, entitled: Judy Rowley, derivatively on behalf of 22nd Century Group, Inc. v. Henry Sicignano, III, Richard M. Sanders, Joseph Alexander Dunn, Nora B. Sullivan, James W. Cornell, John T. Brodfuehrer, and 22nd Century Group, Inc., Index No. 807214/2019. Ms. Rowley brings this action derivatively alleging that the director defendants supposedly breached their fiduciary duties by allegedly allowing the Company to make false statements. The Complaint seeks declaratory relief, unspecified monetary damages, corrective corporate governance actions, and

attorney’s fees and costs. We believe that the claims are frivolous, meritless and that the Company and the individual defendants have substantial legal and factual defenses to the claims. We intend to vigorously defend the Company and the individual defendants against such claims. On September 13, 2019, the Court ordered the litigation stayed pursuant to a joint stipulation by the parties.

On January 15, 2020, Kevin Broccuto filed a shareholder derivative claim against the Company, the Company's then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, the Company's Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, and certain members of the Company's prior Board of Directors in the District Court of the State of Nevada, County of Clark, entitled: Kevin Broccuto, derivatively on behalf of 22nd Century Group, Inc. v. James W. Cornell, Richard M. Sanders, Nora B. Sullivan, Henry Sicignano, III, and John T. Brodfuehrer, Case No. A-20-808599. Mr. Broccuto brings this action derivatively alleging three counts: Count I alleges that the defendants breached their fiduciary duties; Count II alleges they committed corporate waste; and Count III that they were unjustly enriched, by allegedly allowing the Company to make false statements.

On February 11, 2020, Jerry Wayne filed a shareholder derivative claim against the Company, the Company's then Chief Executive Officer, Henry Sicignano III, the Company's Chief Financial Officer, John T. Brodfuehrer, and certain members of the Company's prior Board of Directors in the District Court of the State of Nevada, County of Clark, entitled: Jerry Wayne, derivatively on behalf of 22nd Century Group, Inc. v. James W. Cornell, Richard M. Sanders, Nora B. Sullivan, Henry Sicignano, III, and John T. Brodfuehrer, Case No. A-20-808599. Mr. Wayne brings this action derivatively alleging generally the same allegations as the Brocutto case. The Complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages, corrective corporate governance actions, disgorgement of alleged profits and imposition of constructive trusts, and attorney's fees and costs. The Complaint also seeks to declare as unenforceable the Company's Bylaw requiring derivative lawsuits to be filed in Erie County, New York, where the Company is headquartered.

On March 25, 2020, the Court ordered the Brocutto and Wayne cases consolidated and stayed pursuant to a joint stipulation from the parties. We believe that the claims are frivolous, meritless and that the Company and the individual defendants have substantial legal and factual defenses to the claims. We intend to vigorously defend the Company and the individual defendants against such claims.