- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 23, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Baltimore lawyer Peter Angelos agreed yesterday to accept $150 million to settle his $1.1 billion claim against the state for representing Maryland in its lawsuit against tobacco companies.
Mr. Angelos, a multimillionaire lawyer and majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, will get his money in five annual payments of $30 million.
The agreement announced by Gov. Parris N. Glendening will free up about $123 million that is tied up in an escrow account. The legislature can now use that money to balance the budget for the coming year.
The House and Senate budget committees have already voted to use most of any funds resulting from settlement of the lawsuit to cover an expected deficit in the Medicaid program.
But Mr. Glendening has other ideas how the money should be spent.
He said at the news conference where he announced the agreement that the first $20 million will be used to fully fund the anti-smoking and anti-cancer research programs included in next year's budget.
And he said he will fight "aggressively for the funding of our educational needs and the environment."
The budget committees have made substantial reductions in money Mr. Glendening included in the budget for higher education and land-preservation programs.
House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., Allegany Democrat, joined Mr. Glendening at the news conference to praise the agreement. He said the legislature will work with Mr. Glendening on how the money should be spent.
Mr. Glendening said the agreement has not been signed because negotiators were still at work yesterday evening hammering out final details on areas such as how the payment to the law firm will be structured.
The contract might also be made contingent on how the money from the escrow account will be spent, and Mr. Glendening said he and Mr. Angelos agree on the need to use a significant portion of the tobacco settlement to fight smoking and cancer.
The settlement ends months of negotiations on how much the law firm would be paid.
When the state hired Mr. Angelos, it agreed that he would get 25 percent of any money Maryland collected from tobacco companies.
But when the national settlement was reached two years ago and Maryland's share over 25 years was estimated at $4.4 billion, state officials said $1.1 billion would be excessive for the time Mr. Angelos and his firm spent representing Maryland.
The legislature then voted to limit the fee to 12 percent.
As negotiations continued, Mr. Angelos first asked for $500 million, then lowered his request to $250 million in January. But Mr. Glendening would not accept that amount and continued the negotiations.
Mr. Angelos and his attorney, William Gately, did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the settlement.


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