Nixon Is Biding His Time on Tobacco-Industry Suit

Article excerpt

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon said Friday that he had no plan to join 16 other states in filing suit against the tobacco industry to recover state money spent on smoking-related illnesses.

But Nixon said he would jump in if a settlement looked promising.

"We'll make sure that, if there is some sort of settlement, Missouri's not left on the sidelines," Nixon said. "If I think there are dollars there for the people of Missouri - substantive dollars, real, that we can get to - then I'll get involved." Nixon made his comments in a debate with his GOP opponent for attorney general, Mark Bredemeier, at The Missouri Bar/Missouri Judicial Conference. Bredemeier, a lawyer from Lee's Summit, Mo., told the audience he was not a smoker but was against filing suit at all. "I really have a difficult time with some of the heavy-handedness that's going down, thinking you can bring the weight of government down in these particular issues on smoking," Bredemeier said. Bredemeier cited a lengthy environmental battle to clean up a Superfund cite in the Kansas City area "that had almost every lawyer, every law firm in this town, practicing." In the end, the cleanup cost including legal fees totaled about $25 million, he said. "That's the kind of thing I've seen in the environmental area, and I see us making the same mistake . . . trying to litigate with cigarette companies," Bredemeier said. Bredemeier is general counsel of Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative nonprofit law foundation that promotes free enterprise and limited government. After the debate, Nixon said it was irresponsible for Bredemeier to rule out a suit. …