Report: Tobacco Cos. Eye Texas Deal
Jan. 09, 1998
DALLAS (AP) _ The tobacco industry has offered the state of Texas $14.5 billion over 25 years to settle its lawsuit filed to recoup money spent on sick smokers, The Dallas Morning News reported today.
An agreement could come this weekend, the newspaper reported, citing lawyers close to the talks. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in federal court in Texarkana.
Only attorney fees need to be resolved. The industry has reportedly balked at a proposal from Attorney General Dan Morales that private lawyers hired by the state get 15 percent of the final deal.
Last June, the tobacco industry agreed to pay $368 billion and curb their marketing practices in a deal to settle 40 pending state lawsuits. In return, the industry would get immunity from future lawsuits.
But Congress must approve any deal. After the national agreement was announced, Florida and Mississippi reached their own multimillion-dollar settlements over health care costs.
A trial on the same issue in Minnesota is scheduled to begin Jan 20.
The terms of the proposed Texas settlement fall generally within the parameters of the national agreement, the Morning News reported.
By reaching a settlement now, Texas would be guaranteed its share of what would have been a national settlement fund even if Congress kills the national agreement, lawyers said.