Edmondson says class-action lawsuits could affect settlement

Thursday, July 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(Tulsa-AP) -- Class-action lawsuits that could bankrupt tobacco companies could also affect payments to Oklahoma and other states from a national tobacco settlement. That's according to state Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Edmondson says there have been questions about the effect of a recent class-action ruling in Florida against the tobacco industry. Plaintiffs were awarded $145 billion dollars in punitive damages. Tobacco lawyers predicted the award would break the industry.

Edmondson says the ruling would have no immediate effect on Oklahoma, which is scheduled to receive $200 million over 20 years. Edmondson expects Oklahoma will still get its share of the settlement even if the tobacco companies lose their appeals and are forced to pay the $145 billion dollars. But he says the flow of money to the states could be disrupted if the companies go bankrupt.