Wisconsin May Opt Out Of Tobacco
The Capital Times (Madison, WI)
November 13, 1998 Page 1A
State may opt out of tobacco lawsuit By Mike Ivey
Wisconsin is considering opting out of a pending legal settlement with
cigarette makers, a gamble that the state can do better by pursuing its
own lawsuit against the tobacco companies.
It has been widely speculated that Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut
and others may spurn the settlement.
"I know we've been identified as one of the states (opting out)
but I don't think any decision has been made," said Wisconsin Assistant
Attorney General Shari Eggleson, who has been heading the case for AG Jim
Already the settlement has been criticized by anti-smoking groups.
"The agreement is short on disclosure, short on money, and short
on health protections," said local anti-smoking advocate Ira Sharenow.
Sharenow said the tobacco industry has been pushing for a settlement,
hand-picked the AGs who were negotiated with, and is now pushing the deal
"This document is so complicated there will be no chance for any
kind of review," he said. "But if it's good for tobacco you can
be sure it's bad for the public."
Eggleson said Wisconsin would take a close look at the agreement before
making a decision and would be consulting with the governor.
"I expect a lot of people will try to weigh in on this," she
Wisconsin may stay out of tobacco
settlement. State could continue its lawsuit instead of sharing $200 billion
Milwaukee Journal By Amy Rinard
November 14, 1998
Madison -- Wisconsin may opt out of a $200 billion settlement with cigarette
makers expected to be announced Monday and instead continue to pursue its
own legal action against tobacco companies.
Jim Haney, a spokesman for Attorney General James Doyle, said Friday
that state lawyers have not yet seen the settlement document and that no
decision has been made about whether Wisconsin would accept the proposed
But he stressed that Doyle will insist on a strong public health component
in any agreement accepted by the state and that Wisconsin is fully prepared
to move forward with its own lawsuit against cigarette makers.
"Attorney General Doyle was one of the few attorneys general who
was quite critical of the 1997 proposed agreement, and he has expressed
his concerns this summer when these negotiations began because he had ongoing
concerns that the public health components of any resolution should be
as strong as they can be," Haney said.
Haney said the state has a strong case, has a team of top attorneys
assigned to it and, having recently won two procedural battles in court,
is fully prepared to go to trial.
"We're viewed as having one of the strongest cases in the country,"
With some details of the proposed settlement starting to leak out Friday,
anti-smoking activists urged Doyle to reject the proposed agreement.
Bonnie Sumner of the Wisconsin Initiative on Smoking and Health said
activists especially object to the one-week deadline set by the tobacco
companies for the states to review the complicated agreement and decide
whether to accept or reject it.
"What would be the point of it unless it's to hide something?"
She also is concerned that the public health provisions of the proposal
would be weak and that tobacco companies simply wanted the states to take
the money and run.
"History shows us that anything the tobacco industry agrees to
is bad for people," she said. "They don't want to try all these
lawsuits everywhere. They want to get this behind them and get on with
the business of killing people."
A spokeswoman for the Tobacco Free Wisconsin Coalition, a group of public
health and education organizations, said it was critical that there be
enough time to fully review the proposed settlement.
"We're sort of wondering what kind of hidden land mines are in
this thing," said coalition spokeswoman Moira Harrington.