Tobacco 3: Boston Globe Indicates the Deal is Done
May 28, 1997
In the April 18, 1997 Report discussing the tobacco settlement negotiations, Verdict concluded that “…for all practical purposes, the deal is done…”. This morning the Globe reports that the parties have reached a tentative agreement.
Conflicting news articles have appeared since the negotiations began. These two articles illustrate how intensive press coverage of legal negotiations can muddy a pivotal event which would otherwise be relatively clear. This confusion will intensify as the parties attempt to “sell” the deal to the public and to Congress. In fact confusion is virtually unavoidable when the press reports the conflicting reactions of politicans, health advocates, lawyers, and state attorneys general.
But the important facts remain the same: $300 billion is “real money”; and, no one is immune from the pressure which that much money carries. This is particularly true since beating the tobacco industry in court has been so difficult, so expensive and so time consuming.
There will be a tobacco settlement, as Verdict first predicted in December of 1996, and it is likely to occur soon. Although the litigants can obtain postponements, the Mississippi trial is scheduled for July and this may provide a useful “deadline” to force congressional action before the summer recess. If not, then Congressional approval should occur sometime this fall…before next year’s Congressional races heat up.
 On May 12, 1997, a front page New York Times headline read “Liability Question May Imperil Talks On Smoking Claims”.
 On May 23, 1997, The Wall Street Journal ran an article on page 3 with a headline reading “Tobacco Talks Are Near Pact on Liability”.