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Snuff settlement includes $816 apiece in coupons 

Suit accused smokeless tobacco maker of trying to monopolize market
Jump to full article: Milwaukee (WI) Journal-Sentinel, 2007-09-04


Wisconsin snuff users could each soon receive $816 in coupons that will enable them to buy the smokeless tobacco at a huge discount over the next 20 years, a move that could cost UST Inc., the manufacturer of Copenhagen and Skoal, up to $65 million. . . .

The largess is the result of a class-action lawsuit that also gives the lawyers who brought the suit $17 million. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Michael Dwyer has given preliminary approval to the lawsuit. A final hearing is scheduled for Dec. 4.

UST coupons will be either $6 off for three-pack of tins or $1.50 off single tins, about half off the current price of a tin of snuff.

While those promoting the settlement say the terms are nothing to sniff at, critics call it a classic example of what's wrong with class-action lawsuits.

"The case was settled by selling out the consumer," said Gerald Thain, a University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School professor emeritus. "The effect of the settlement is that it will protect the position of UST in the smokeless tobacco market for the next 20 years."

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