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Texas, Tobacco Cos. Reach Agreement

January 16, 1998

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Lawyers for cigarette companies and the state on Friday sealed an agreement worth more than $14 billion that makes Texas the third state to settle its lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

``We have a settlement. It is done,″ said Ron Dusek, a spokesman for state attorney general Dan Morales. ``The attorney general is on his way back (to Austin) with it in his hands.″

Morales and attorneys for Big Tobacco met with U.S. District Judge David Folsom for about six hours Friday to make the settlement documents letter-perfect.

One issue that apparently was not completely resolved was how much money the lawyers will get. The state on Friday filed four motions asking the judge to arbitrate the attorney fees. They had been promised a 15 percent cut of a jury award.

Morales was expected back in Austin for a late afternoon news conference to discuss the deal.

Folsom is not expected to sign the documents until Tuesday.

The deal is by far the largest of the three made by the industry, coming close to the combined $14.4 billion negotiated with Florida and Mississippi last year.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the settlement was ``another indicator that tobacco companies will be held accountable and another reason why there should be federal legislation to pursue these issues on behalf of all Americans.″ He said tobacco companies are ``clearly on the run and they’re on the run for good reason.″

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