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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "State appeals order that strips Indiana of $63 million in tobacco payments"

Both Lesley Weidenbener of The Statehouse File and Barb Berggoetz of the Indianapolis Star have stories late today reporting that, to quote from the Star story:

Indiana is appealing a federal ruling that reduces by $62.8 million the amount tobacco companies were due to pay the state in 2014 to compensate for smoking-related illnesses.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller asked a Marion County court on Wednesday to vacate a ruling by an arbitration panel relating to the financial fallout from the 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement. * * *

Zoeller ... contends in a motion filed in Marion County Superior Court, which has jurisdiction over the settlement in Indiana, that the panel exceeded its authority under law and the process it used to determine payments was unfair to Indiana.

He said the panel used a new legal definition of what is considered “diligent enforcement” that it created after the fact and imposed retroactively. He contends 20 other states that settled, rather than continue the arbitration process, were not held to the newly created enforcement standard that Indiana and five other states were held to by the panel. * * *

When the ruling was issued, state Reps. Gregory Porter, D-Indianapolis, and Charlie Brown, D-Gary, voiced concerns about what they called the state’s lack of adequate action to secure the funds.

Brown said Indiana didn’t try hard enough to make tobacco companies that didn’t sign the agreement to make payments into an escrow fund if they do business here.

A hearing date has not been scheduled yet on the state’s motion to vacate the ruling.

The ILB wrote quite a bit about this issue in October. This Oct. 17th post gives the background. The follow-up post, from Oct. 21st, links to the arbitrators' award document, and focuses on both the determination of diligent enforcement, and the roles played by former-Attorney General Carter.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 4, 2013 07:09 PM
Posted to Indiana Government