Name .7% Address Where did you find this issue of the Observer? City/State/Zip Will he reach his high aspirations? Or will he ,just blow it? Read about it in the Observer. I want to subscribe to The Texas Observer. Check enclosed Bill me 0 Murr, or anyone else, then Cornyn would look like an idiot. The same source says Cornyn has yet to fully investigate charges made by Houston trial lawyer Joe Jamail, who allegedly has told investigators Morales asked him and other trial lawyers to each contribute $1 million to his legal defense fund. Politics aside, there are troubling public policy aspects in the way Cornyn has handled the fee fight. Cornyn has refused to answer any questions about the investigation, responding with a fourparagraph statement that did not answer any of the twenty questions this reporter submitted in writing \(see “Cornyn Responds,” formation Act, Cornyn’s office has even refused to estimate the number of hours spent on the matter. \(Yet he has demanded to see time sheets for the Big Five, to determine how many hours they basis of the C.I.D.s Cornyn issued to the trial lawyers. There is his sandbagging of the trial lawyers by attacking them in the press at the very moment he was meeting with them in negotiations. Cornyn has yet to fully explain his refusal to conduct his investigation under Judge Folsom. Nor will Cornyn nor anyone working with him and the legislators opposing the payment of legal fees say what they believe is owed to the lawyers who tried and won the case. A.G. spokesman Ted Delisi would say only, “We don’t want to disclose our legal strategy,” and Pete Schenkkan, who is working alongside Cornyn, said the trial lawyers “are due an appropriate fee, unless they breached their fiduciary duty.” Amidst all this controversy is one indisputable fact: the tobacco settlement was a colossal win for the state of Texas. Without risking a dime of taxpayers’ money, the state won an outlandish sum that will enrich Texas for generations to come. The settlement also requires tobacco companies to stop billboard advertising, to fund anti-smoking campaigns, and to pay for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of medical research. The trial lawyers won the war, yet Cornyn and Bush, who had nothing to do with it, are fighting over the spoils. Cornyn has pledged to continue the fight, perhaps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Big Five have 3.3 billion reasons to keep fighting. While no clear winner has yet emerged in the fee fight, the tobacco companies have won several important battles. They are out of court, they have a guarantee that the states and their medical institutions won’t sue them again, and they have limited their payments to trial lawyers to $500 million per year about two cents per pack of cigarettes sold. They even ended up with some unlikely allies in the $20 billion lawsuit the federal government filed against them in September: the states. Any amount the feds squeeze out of the tobacco companies will likely come from the money the companies are currently paying the states. So the .states now have a financial interest in making sure the feds don’t get a dime out of Big Tobacco. “The tobacco companies made all the states that settled with them partners in the cigarette business,” said one lawyer working on the case. “This enterprise that was so evil, the one that’s killing our children, is now a partner of the states. Settling the lawsuits with the states is the smartest thing the tobacco companies ever did.” Robert Bryce is a regular contributor to the Observer and a staff writer at the Austin Chronicle, where an earlier version of this article first appeared. 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 26, 1999 ,
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.