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Texas Tobacco Lawyers To Get $3.3 Billion

DALLAS (Reuters) December 11, 1998

A team of five lawyers who negotiated a $17.3 billion settlement in Texas' lawsuit against tobacco companies has been awarded a record $3.3 billion in fees, a newspaper reported Friday.

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The Dallas Morning News said the fees would be the largest in U.S. legal history.

The newspaper, quoting attorneys involved in the case, said the award was made Thursday night by a national arbitration panel meeting in Washington, D.C.

The panel was appointed by cigarette makers and a group of trial lawyers to decide fees for tobacco lawyers representing states that settled suits with the tobacco industry.

The Texas lawsuit, seeking reimbursement for the costs of caring for sick smokers, was settled last January just before going to trial.

Under agreement with the state, the attorneys were to get 15 percent of the award, but the amount they sought grew from $2.3 billion to as much as $25 billion in recent meetings with the arbitration panel, the newspaper said.

The latter amount was based on the total worth of the settlement as it was paid out over time.

The tobacco industry and 46 states reached a proposed settlement last month in which the industry agreed to pay $206 billion.

Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Minnesota had earlier made separate settlements with tobacco firms.


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