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States Ask Leniency For Tobacco Firm

Twenty state attorneys general asked the White House Wednesday to exempt Liggett Group, the smallest of the nation’s major cigarette makers, from the financial terms of the $368.5 billion proposed settlement with the tobacco industry.

Citing Liggett’s earlier legal deal with their states and the company’s “valuable role” in bringing the other tobacco companies to the bargaining table, the state officials asked that Liggett pay no more than 25 percent of its pretax income to settle the outstanding lawsuits against it.

Under terms of the broad tobacco litigation settlement plan announced in June, Liggett would be forced to pay far more, potentially driving the company into bankruptcy, Liggett officials said Wednesday.