Law Firms Sue State of Massachusetts
BOSTON (AP) - Two law firms are suing the state of Massachusetts, which they say owes them a fee for helping the state get $8 billion from the tobacco industry.
Brown Rudnick Freed and Gesmer of Boston and San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein filed suit against the state Thursday. The Boston firm is seeking $282 million; the amount the other firm is seeking was not known late Thursday.
Under the tobacco settlement, Brown Rudnick will get $178 million over 25 years from the cigarette makers. But the firms insist the state owes them additional fees.
They were among five law firms that helped the state take the tobacco companies to court over the high cost of treating people sickened by smoking. The other three firms have not sued the state for additional fees.
For their help, the law firms were entitled to 25 percent of any settlement - or $2 billion - Brown Rudnick spokeswoman Karen Schwartzman said.
State Attorney General Tom Reilly called the firms' effort to get more money ``absolutely disgraceful'' and vowed to fight.
``It's never enough for them,'' he said. ``They want more and more money.''
Regarding the claimed 25 percent fee, Reilly said state law entitles attorneys to ``fair and reasonable fees, but not excessive fees.''
The $8 billion is to be paid to Massachusetts over 25 years. The state intends to use the money chiefly for health programs, including those aimed at discouraging children from smoking.