Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Reimbursed for Tobacco Suit

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State Reimbursed for Tobacco Suit

Article excerpt

Officials received $1.7 million Tuesday in reimbursement for the time state attorneys spent on the landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

Atty. General Drew Edmondson said the funds are in addition to the $2.3 billion Oklahoma will receive over the next 25 years as its portion of the settlement. The total settlement amounted to some $206 billion.

A payment of $24 million was made in December on Oklahoma's behalf into an escrow account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. Another $66 million is to be deposited next April, then each April until the full settlement amount is paid.

The funds are to be held in trust until a sufficient number of states representing 80 percent of the 50 states as well as 80 percent of the nation's population finalize consent decrees. The first requirement has been met, Edmondson said. With the recent New York settlement, he added, the states have met 66.94 of the population requirement. The addition of California, which represents about 12 percent of the United States population, would fulfill the second requirement. Edmondson said California appears close to finalization.

"I am especially proud of the work of the attorney general's office," said Edmondson. "Our attorneys and legal staff spent thousands of hours on this lawsuit. We are all pleased that the expenses we incurred are being recovered from the tobacco companies."

Edmondson said that in addition to himself, 12 assistant attorneys general and two paralegals accounted for 9,395 hours of the total 11,356 total hours contributed by the nine state agencies involved in the lawsuit. He said he does not know how much private attorneys might receive. Two funds are available to reimburse these expenses.

Of the total in legal expenses recovered, $1.3 million will go into the general revenue fund for legislative appropriation. …

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