Blame it on the dog

1998-03-01

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As the lawyer for one of the tobacco case “Dream Team” members, C. Steven Yerrid, I have been keeping a running list of the excuses the state has put forward for unilaterally abandoning its contract obligations. I am at a loss as to where to put the “We lost the original” excuse, so for now I’m putting it in “The Dog Ate My Homework” file.

There are so many misstatements and errors in the attorney general’s reported comments I feel I must respond. First, the $2.8-billion fee figure has never been claimed by any lawyer in the case. It is more than twice as high as any number that could be contemplated even if the state fully lived up to its obligations.

With regard to the attorney general’s assertion that he believed the lawyers would actually get more money under the new proposal, the response is easy; Pay your lawyers first, then exercise the reimbursement provisions of the contract. That way the state “gets more.”

He is further quoted as saying that the tobacco industry would be fair with the state’s lawyers while all existing evidence (i.e. cutting them out of a contractual fee) indicates otherwise.

The topper, however, comes at the end of the article where the reader is invited to believe that the tobacco industry was brought to its knees not by the trial lawyers but by the attorney general and governor who allowed the dog to eat their homework.

Tom Carey, Esq., Carey & Hilbert, Clearwater

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