Proctor schools get $24,000 from tobacco settlement
The Proctor Public Schools will get $24,416 as part of their share from a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota lawsuit against the tobacco industry.
School boards in Northeast Minnesota began receiving word this week about the settlement disbursement. Thirty-one schools will share $400,000.
Proctor’s share amounted to 6.1 percent of the funds. They were the fourth highest in the amount of money received.
Other area schools in the Cooperative that will receive money include Floodwood $3,678; Esko $11,504; Cloquet $19,330; and Hermantown $20,504.
Each School Cooperative in Minnesota was limited or capped at $400,000. Without a cap, Proctor could have received $52,242.
The U.S. Department of Labor is advising the schools on how the money should be spent.
Superintendent Diane Rauschenfels will be meeting with District bargaining units to discuss how the money should be dispersed.
Blue Cross Blue Shield began their lawsuit over 11 years ago. The appeals period on a related lawsuit settlement expired November 22, concluding a legal action that had been holding up the implementation of Blue Cross’ plan for its tobacco settlement proceeds.
Blue Cross was the first health plan in the nation to sue the tobacco industry, to hold the industry accountable for its actions and to prevent a new generation of smokers in Minnesota. The industry settled the lawsuit in 1998, agreeing to pay Blue Cross $469 million in damages and to change the way cigarettes are marketed in Minnesota. To date, Blue Cross remains the only health plan to have recovered damages.
The $41 million, less plaintiffs’ attorneys fees and costs, (about $36 million) is being distributed to approximately 10,000 fully insured employer groups that had Blue Cross coverage at any time from Jan. 1, 1978 through June 15, 2001 and who applied for the distribution. The original Healthier Minnesota plan called for $30 million. Another $11 million was added as part of a separate legal action.