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Lorillard Tobacco Settlement Talks Break Down

November 10, 2000|Bloomberg News

Settlement talks between Lorillard Tobacco Co. and attorneys for smokers suing the cigarette maker have broken down, the company's general counsel said, blaming "unreasonable" demands by the plaintiffs. Lorillard, a unit of Loews Corp., would have paid $7.5 billion to settle its liability under the agreement that was under discussion, said Lorillard's general counsel, Ron Milstein. An attorney for the plaintiffs said earlier this week that the nationwide settlement negotiations had stalled after a Florida state judge affirmed a $145-billion verdict--the largest in U.S. legal history--against cigarette makers in a class-action smokers' suit. The plaintiffs' lawyer, Woody Wilner, said another tobacco company, Liggett Group, would have paid $500 million under the proposed settlement. Liggett officials declined to comment. In return for the settlement payment, the claims against the two cigarette makers would have been dropped and future claims for punitive damages would have been barred. The three major tobacco companies--Philip Morris Cos., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. and British American Tobacco Place's Brown & Williamson unit--did not participate in settlement talks. Milstein declined to speculate on the chances that the parties will return to the negotiating table. Shares of Loews, based in New York, fell 6 cents to close at $89.81, and Miami-based Vector Group rose 25 cents to close at $15.56, both on the NYSE.

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