TOBACCO SETTLEMENT: Judge Approves State’s $25 Billion Share
In a "remarkably placid conclusion to a long and sometimes bitter legal battle," a San Diego Superior Court judge yesterday authorized the state's participation in the $206 billion national tobacco settlement. Judge Ronald Prager approved the settlement -- "the largest in California history -- after a 90-minute hearing." The Los Angeles Times reports that the "decision makes California the 19th state to formally approve the settlement. So far no judge has rejected a state's participation in the deal, which involves 46 states." The "only discord" came from San Diego lead counsel Patrick Coughlin, who announced that four public health organizations -- the California Medical Association, the American Pediatric Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association -- withdrew their names from the plaintiffs' list so they could "remain free to criticize the settlement" (Weinstein, 12/10). The San Francisco Chronicle reports it was "a largely symbolic gesture," as none of the groups would have collected damages under the state deal (Russell, 12/10). Copley News/San Diego Union- Tribune reports that separate "suits filed by local governments will be dismissed when each jurisdiction formally embraces the settlement. More than 10 of the 18 already have approved it, and the balance are expected to follow shortly." The settlement will become final if no one appeals the judge's decision within 60 days (Sweeney, 12/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.