Debate and Issues Index

draft settlement

Judicial ORDER in Pennsylvania

The people in Pennsylvania seem to be making some progress in seeing that there is a proper judicial review of the AG deal.

Here is what they sent our list group

"AND NOW, this 23rd day of November, 1998, it is hearby ORDERED that the hearing before the Honorable Mary D. Colins scheduled for November 25, 1998 at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom 275 City Hall to consider the Petitions for Preliminary Relief, Intervention and Special Injunction by Robert B. Sklaroff, MD, William Godshall and Jeffrey Barg is canceled and any further proceeding will be scheduled before Judge Herron if and when any request to approve the settlement is filed."

BY THE COURT: [signed] John W. Herron, J. & Mary D. Colins, J.

Our lawyer interprets this as a victory, inasmuch as I had told the law clerks for both judges this AM that our intent was merely to ensure the case had been transferred to the proper judge prior to his signing-off on any agreement.

Thus, our petition (which will probably be updated following receipt of dozens of FAXes over the weekend) contained sufficient pleadings to prompt the scheduling of a hearing and, thereafter, to prompt the proper shift of venue.

My interpretation of the language is that the filing of the settlement will trigger a proceeding at which we will have the opportunity to present our case. Clearly, standing remains at-issue and our ability to muster sufficient data to warrant its being rejected (as written) is not assured. But we are acquiring legal muscle from various eastern-seaboard cities constantly, and we are still inviting additional litigants; for example, at least one organization has now agreed to join as a co-petitioner.

Cases in California, Ohio, Michigan and New York are at various stages of development/rejection/appeal, but ours has survived two hurdles; our lawyer now terms us "players" and we intensify our appeal for endorsements.

If any further evidence is needed that our work is "for real" and is now validated for co-adoption URGENTLY by other states, today's Wall Street Journal (page B-13) states: "Antitobacco activists in PA, meanwhile, have sued to block that state's participation on grounds that the settlement doesn't do enough to curtail industry marketing practices or reduce smoking."

The anti-tobacco movement must now face its mortality. Our ongoing capacity to hope that there will always be "another day" is threatened by this settlement. We must prompt editorialists to educate the public ASAP that tobacco will be institutionalized by this deal. We must posture ourselves as educated and mainstream, as opposed to zealots and extremists, and we must be able to explain the rationale for our concerns. Such is easy if people are merely prompted to READ THE DOCUMENT. A little commentary is all that's needed to convince the non-initiate that it is a THREAT to the public health.

Curiously, the Pennsylvania Medical Society is "supportive upon advice from the Attorney General" which is ridiculous, inasmuch as the AG signed it! The PA Society of Internal Medicine and the Phila. Co. Medical Society both have called for a 30-day study period prior to rendering a judgment, and the AMA will hold a major conference among organizational colleagues tomorrow, at which time all of their data will be reviewed; its "disinterested" assessment is on its www-site (ama-assn.org). Thus, we must encourage INDEPENDENT assessment of this deal by all organizations with which we deal and of which we are members, lest the type of oxymoronic, reflex behavior of the PMS become the operational norm.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The filing in PA through the Phila. Court of Common Pleas has prompted issuance both of a Rule and an Order. As a result, this matter will be heard by the President Judge (John W. Herron) at a hearing that will be scheduled "if and when any request to approve the settlement is filed." The Petitioners seek advice of whatever ilk the readership can muster, inclusive of consultative, legal, organizational-endorsement and personal commentary. All input to myself will be shared immediately with all petitioners and counsel. We encourage those in other states to copy our brief (available through ASH.org) and file it urgently, for it will be far easier to affect the outcome if this occurs before the judges approve the settlement proposals.