B&W Criticizes $775 Million Tobacco Legal Fees Award
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation released the following statement regarding today's announced decision by an arbitration panel awarding a total of $775 million to the plaintiffs' lawyers representing the state of Massachusetts in the state's Medicai
When we reached a settlement with the states' attorneys general last November, we agreed to pay "reasonable compensation'' to the lawyers representing the states. The award of $775 million defies anyone's definition of ``reasonable.'' Although total industry payments to attorneys are capped at $500 million per year, this award should be a concern to everyone who values a fair legal system. Attorney fees should be based on legal principles, not a jackpot-lottery mentality.
The amount of money reportedly granted to the attorneys for their work in just this one case would be enough to pay the annual salary of the President of the United States for the next 3,875 years. An average Massachusetts worker would have to clock in 43 million hours, or 21,000 years of work, to equal what a handful of lawyers will receive in this tobacco case.
It would take 44,995 Massachusetts citizens -- or more than the entire combined populations of Lexington, Hyannis, Wilbraham, and Concord -- working an entire year to earn what the Massachusetts legal team has been awarded for its work on this single lawsuit.
Or put another way, the lawyers who receive these fee awards could buy both the Red Sox and the New England Patriots. Or these few lawyers could single-handedly finance construction of not only the new New England Patriots stadium, but also two more exactly like it.