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IN BRIEF / TOBACCO

N.Y. Judge May Cut Cigarette Settlement

June 21, 2002|Bloomberg News

A New York state judge said he may void $625 million in lawyers' fees from New York's $25-billion settlement of litigation with Philip Morris Cos., RJR Tobacco Holdings Inc. and other tobacco companies.

New York Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Ramos said that he was "in possession of facts suggesting unethical conduct," and that he might refer the matter to the state bar committee on discipline.

Ramos did not elaborate but said he might require private attorneys who represented the state to produce time sheets showing what they had done to earn their fees, which were authorized in October by an arbitration panel.

The judge said he might even overturn the state's $25-billion share of the $206-billion national settlement reached with the tobacco industry in 1998.

Three New York law firms were awarded $281 million in fees in the case.

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