Firms Share $1.4B From Tobacco Suit
A dozen law firms that participated in Mississippi's successful battle with the tobacco industry have been awarded $1.4 billion in fees and expenses.
"Given the level of risk that we undertook, which included the expenditure of millions of dollars of our own money, the attorneys' fees awarded in this case is entirely justified and consistent with precedent,'' Richard Scruggs, whose Pascagoula firm will get nearly $340 million, said after the award was announced Thursday.
The Tobacco Fee Arbitration Panel's decision gives the firms an amount equal to about one-third of the state's $4.2 billion share of the $206 billion national tobacco settlement. The money for the lawyers will paid by cigarette makers and will not come out of the state's share.
Separately, the panel awarded five law firms that participated in Massachusetts' lawsuit $775 million in fees and expenses, which is equal to 9.3 percent of that state's $8.3 billion share of the settlement.
A joint statement from Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Lorillard Tobacco Co., called the award excessive, saying the Massachusetts lawyers ``did not invest the same amount of effort as earlier states.''