Neal Roth of Grossman Roth was recently quoted in the Daily Business Review regarding his position on the Liggett Group global settlement reached this past Wednesday. The Miami-based parent of cigarette maker Liggett Group has reached a global settlement agreeing to pay a total of $110 million to more than 4,900 sick Florida smokers to resolve individual lawsuits filed after a statewide class action was disbanded.
Vector Group Ltd., which owns Liggett, agreed to pay $61 million in a lump sum and $49 million in installments over 15 years to resolve most of the cases and expects to take an after-tax charge of $53 million in the third quarter to cover the cost of resolving litigation. Recently, the U.S Supreme Court refused to consider industry arguments that the company was denied due process in smoker trials, leading some plaintiffs attorneys to speculate that the remaining cases were ready for settlement.
However, Neal Roth who served as plaintiffs coordinating counsel in negotiations with Vector for more than three years, stated that the U.S Supreme Court decision had no effect on negotiations. Roth credits his partner, Andrew Yaffa, for getting talks started with Vector long before the U.S Supreme Court decision. Roth is quoted as saying “The numbers were reached a long time ago, but a multitude of other issues needed to be worked out.”
Neal Roth shares his knowledge about the settlement with the Daily Business Review, stating that there will be no master judge handling the settlement. He continues to explain there are about 60 participating law firms winding down the process of getting their clients’ releases and that notices will be filed in each case dropping Liggett as a defendant, or a dismissal will be filed if Liggett is the only defendant.
Roth said the decision by Vector’s board to settle was akin to its 1996 decision to end litigation with states on their claims for Medicaid reimbursement. He shares his surprise on other companies not having done the same. Roth continues, “Vector and Liggett eliminate hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars of exposure, and the other companies keep wanting to do hand-to-hand combat.”