A New Lawsuit For Big Tobacco?

IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED.... The White House is considering a lawsuit against the tobacco companies to recoup Medicare spending on smoking-related illnesses. State actions to recover Medicaid outlays prompted the tobacco companies to negotiate a proposed settlement in 1997. But the tobacco companies recently abandoned the settlement because they objected that protections against their liability were being watered down. Congress has all but killed the bill. Tobacco companies are now negotiating with individual states to settle their lawsuits. Richard A. Daynard, chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Boston's Northeastern University School of Law, says a federal suit would be "quite wonderful," but such a threat "might have been more effective a couple of months ago, before the tobacco industry had nothing to lose by killing the bill."