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Chew on This: $10.6M for Chaw

In a victory sure to be hailed by professional baseball players everywhere, a Massachusetts judge is expected to give his approval today to a $10.65 million settlement of a class action lawsuit involving smokeless tobacco, the Boston Herald reports. Notably, the settlement represents a win not for health advocates but for consumer advocates, given that the lawsuit was for price fixing.

"This is the largest settlement per consumer in the country in a case involving price fixing for smokeless tobacco," Robert Bonsignore of Bonsignore & Brewer, the attorney who represented the plaintiffs, told the Herald. "It wasn’t bad enough that they have more than 80 percent of the market share on a product that is more addictive than heroin, they also fixed the price."

Under the terms of the proposed settlement with U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., consumers could receive cash payments of $25 to $700 after filing claims. The company, a subsidiary of tobacco giant Altria, sells the brands Copenhagen, Skoal, Red Seal and Husky.

In other tobacco-litigation news, Reuters reports today that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling that cigarette companies, including Altria, violated federal racketeering laws by conspiring to lie about the dangers of smoking. The full 92-page ruling is here: U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 22, 2009 at 01:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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