Thousands of smokers and the familes of deceased smokers will be splitting $600 million from a fund which was financed by tobacco companies as part of the tobacco settlement. The money will be divided evenly by those who became ill before November 21, 1996. Approximately 10,000 to 50,000 stand to split the money. Interested parties have until June 16 to register with the Engle Trust Fund. Registration can be done by mail or at the fund’s website.
Controversy has arisen regarding whether it is fair that all parties will split the money equally as opposed to most of the money going to the original group that filed a class action lawsuit. Although the award in that class action lawsuit was thrown out, the court’s finding that tobacco was a dangerous product was upheld. Another controversy is about the amount of attorney’s fees in the case. The lawyers who handled the case will take home over $200 million, which may seem exorbitant. However, it is important to remember that the lawyers basically abandoned their practice and handled this case exclusively. They also funded the litigation by paying the costs of the litigation as the process went on.
Anyone who feels that they are eligible for some disbursement should submit some proof of cigarette related illness like cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Visit the Engle trust website for more information.