Judge Rejects Liggett Settlement
Tobacco maker Liggett Group Inc. has lost a bid to head off future lawsuits by sick smokers by creating a fund that would pay $1 million annually for claims.
Mobile County Circuit Judge Robert Kendall on Thursday refused to OK the agreement, reached with attorneys representing smokers nationwide.
Kendall pointed to a Supreme Court decision that set aside a $1.5 billion settlement involving Fibreboard Corp. and asbestos-related claims. That ruling set strict standards for settlements that apply to all potential plaintiffs.
Attorneys for Liggett, which provided key evidence in the national tobacco settlement, had told the judge that bankruptcy loomed if the settlement were denied.
However, after the ruling, spokesman Paul Caminiti said the company was reviewing its options but "absolutely not considering bankruptcy.''