Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that the State of Oregon will be awarded an additional $207 million from a special Strategic Contribution Fund created under the recent national tobacco settlement.
"Although today's announcement is subject to further revisions, the distribution formula fairly reflects Oregon's contribution to the overall litigation and settlement effort," Myers said. "I am pleased and proud that we received this recognition."
The 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 52 states and territories and six tobacco companies established several funds for various purposes, including direct payments to states, a national foundation for public health grants, attorney's fees for private firms, a national fund for enforcement activities, reimbursement of states' litigation costs, and the Strategic Contribution Fund.
The $8.6 billion Strategic Contribution Fund requires that a 3-member panel evaluate applications from all states and territories and make awards based on the panel's assessment of each settling state or territory's contribution to the litigation or its resolution. Of the 46 states, the District of Columbia, and 5 U.S. territories that applied, the panel ranked Oregon eleventh overall in its contribution.
"Although Oregon was one of the later states to file suit against the industry, our case would have been among the first seven to get to trial," Myers said. "Since Oregon was so close to trial when the litigation settled, we were able to share our experiences and strategies with other states which benefited the overall litigation effort. Contributions we made to the settlement effort are also recognized by the award."
The panel was comprised of three former Attorneys General: David Frohnmayer of Oregon, John Van de Kamp of California and W.J. Michael Cody of Tennessee.
Awards from the Strategic Contribution Fund will be distributed in ten payments during the years 2008-2017. The funds will be paid into the General Fund for appropriation by the legislature. The funds are not earmarked or designated for any particular purpose, and are subject to various adjustment factors that may increase or decrease the amount paid in a given year.
"This Fund award further enhances our state's financial gain from Oregon's litigation and the national settlement. Because consumer protection law violations are a primary basis of Oregon's lawsuit, I hope the legislature will consider applying some of the revenues made available to the state through the national settlement to augment Oregon's consumer protection program," Myers said. "Currently, the demand from the public for more services far exceeds supply."
The Oregon Department of Justice's Financial Fraud/Consumer Protection Section is the sole government agency enforcing Oregon's consumer protection laws. The section receives more than 60,000 consumer contacts annually.
Kristen Grainger, (503) 378-6002