NPR logo Update: Key Players In The Tobacco Settlement


Update: Key Players In The Tobacco Settlement

The 1998 tobacco case was the largest civil settlement in U.S. history, and it had far-reaching implications for states and tobacco companies. Here's a look at some of the major players in that settlement — what they did then, and where they are now:

Louis Camilleri.  Credit: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

Louis Camilleri was chief financial officer for Philip Morris and a lead negotiator in the settlement talks during the late 1990s. In 2002, he was named president and CEO of Philip Morris' parent company, Altria Group. At the time, he said he hoped to steer the company to "ever greater heights in terms of performance, social responsibility and shareholder value." Earlier this year, Altria Group spun off Philip Morris International, in part to avoid the regulatory restraints on Philip Morris USA. Camilleri was named CEO of the international company.

Gov. Christine Gregoire.  Credit: Elaine Thompson/AP

Christine Gregoire, formerly the attorney general in Washington state, was among the dozens of attorneys general to sue the cigarette companies over the costs of treating sick smokers. She was a lead negotiator in the talks that led to the landmark settlement. Gregoire is now the governor of Washington, and her state is one of the few to have used the settlement money as it was intended — on anti-smoking and public health programs.

Former Miss. Attorney General Mike Moore.  Credit: Rogelio Solis/AP

Mike Moore, former attorney general of Mississippi, filed the first state lawsuit against the tobacco companies, in 1994, to force them to pay state costs for treating sick smokers. His friend, attorney Mike Lewis, came to him with the idea. Many smokers either didn't have the resources to sue Big Tobacco or lost their cases when the companies argued that people made individual decisions to smoke despite the dangers. In this new type of lawsuit, Moore argued that the state didn't smoke, but it still had to pay the Medicaid costs for indigent smokers. Moore is now in private practice in Jackson, Miss., and is currently representing Nigeria in suing the tobacco industry for the public health costs of smoking.

Matthew Myers.  Credit: Rogelio Solis/AP

Matthew Myers was executive vice president and legal counsel to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which he helped found in 1996. Its goals are to prevent children from smoking and help people quit. Myers participated in the negotiations that led to the tobacco settlement. The campaign is currently working around the world to reduce tobacco use globally. Myers later became president of the organization in 2000.

Richard "Dickie" Scruggs.  Credit: Nicole LaCour Young/AP

Mississippi trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs first became well-known taking on the asbestos industry on behalf of sick shipyard workers. He was then hired to sue Big Tobacco, representing Mississippi in the protracted tobacco litigation in the 1990s and helping to broker a deal. He said the settlement earned his firm close to $1 billion. He continued as a class action warrior until getting into a dispute over legal fees in the settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases. In 2007, he was indicted on charges of attempting to bribe a judge. He pleaded guilty and is serving five years at a federal prison in eastern Kentucky.

Read Part 1 of the tobacco settlement series.

Compiled by Cathy Shaw.