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Suit Seeks $2 Billion for Smokers

July 21, 1998

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Smokers should receive at least a third of the state’s $6.1 billion tobacco settlement, said attorneys who filed a lawsuit on behalf of 70,000 smokers.

Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, who settled the state’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry, expected the new suit to be dismissed quickly.

``I don’t think there’s any foundation,″ he said.

Even if the lawsuit filed Friday doesn’t greatly reduce the state’s share of the settlement, it could delay plans to spend it by tying it up in court.

The state sued for treating smoking-related illnesses of welfare recipients. Ron Meshbesher, one of the lawyers who filed the new suit, said smokers were the ``injured parties″ and should receive the difference between the amount of the settlement and the amount the state spent on treatment.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an estimated 70,000 people. The matter is considered a ``proposed class action″ until the court validates the class members and the action.

Already, gubernatorial candidates have lined up with ideas on how to spend the money, from buying prescription drugs for senior citizens to a comprehensive anti-smoking campaign.

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