For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: April 7, 2003

Attorney General Acts to Protect Tobacco Settlement

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has filed an “amicus curiae” brief in an Illinois case in an attempt to ensure that Idaho receives the next scheduled payment under the national tobacco settlement from Philip Morris USA. Wasden said the attorneys general of 37 other states joined the brief. “Amicus curiae” is a Latin legal term of art meaning, literally “friend of the court.” Those who have a strong interest in a case, but are not actual parties to the case, often file such briefs.

The judge in the recently decided Illinois class action awarded more than $10 billion to smokers who sued Philip Morris. In order to appeal the judgment, Illinois court rules require that Philip Morris must post a bond, which can be equal to the judgment plus costs and interest. The judge set the appeal bond at $12 billion.

Philip Morris USA has informed the state attorneys general that, in light of the size of the appeal bond, it is “presently uncertain” whether the company will make $2.6 billion in settlement payments due to state governments on April 15.

“Idaho’s sole interest in this case is the $12 billion bond, which, if it precludes Philip Morris from making its next payment, could deal a significant financial blow to our state,” Attorney General Wasden said. “We are asking the court to exercise its discretion and set a bond amount that accommodates Idaho’s interests. The state is not taking a position on the merits of the case.”

Under terms of the national tobacco settlement, Philip Morris is obligated to make a payment of $9,410,896 to Idaho on April 15. Attorney General Wasden reiterated that Idaho will sue to enforce the settlement agreement if the company does not make the April 15th payment.

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