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Nebraska To Sue Tobacco Companies

August 22, 1998

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ The latest state to sue the tobacco industry is Nebraska, estimating smoking and related illnesses and deaths cost Nebraska at least $40 million a year. They estimate 2,400 Nebraska residents die every year from smoking.

The 41st state to sue the industry had stayed out of the fray with the hope it would benefit from a multistate settlement that died in Congress.

The lawsuit filed Friday, like others, accuses the tobacco industry of conspiring to market cigarettes despite knowing as early as 1953 that they posed health risks.

On Thursday, a Circuit Court judge in Honolulu ruled that Hawaii can proceed with its lawsuit seeking $1 billion in medical reimbursements from the tobacco industry. Judge Kevin Chang rejected the industry’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. The case is expected to go to trial next year.

The tobacco industry and attorneys general from several states are trying to settle pending lawsuits. States involved in the talks are California, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania North Carolina, Washington and Oklahoma. Nebraska could take part in that settlement.

Mississippi, Minnesota, Texas and Florida settled their lawsuits for $36.8 billion.

In March, the smallest of the major tobacco companies _ Brooke Group Ltd. and its subsidiary, Liggett Group _ settled claims with 14 states, including Nebraska, which is guaranteed $1 million from that settlement, plus other payments to be determined later.

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