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In brief: Chewing tobacco deal believed first

Wed., Dec. 8, 2010

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – A smokeless tobacco company has agreed to pay $5 million to the family of a man who died of mouth cancer in what the family’s attorney and an expert called the first wrongful death settlement from chewing tobacco.

Attorney Antonio Ponvert III told the Associated Press on Tuesday that U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. agreed to pay $5 million to the family of Bobby Hill of Canton, N.C.

“This company manufactures and sells a dangerous and defective product that it knows causes addiction, disease and death in consumers who use it as intended,” Ponvert said.

The company, which makes Copenhagen and Skoal brands, confirmed the settlement in a regulatory filing, but declined further comment.

Mark Gottlieb, director of the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern School of Law in Boston, said he believes it’s the first case of its kind and predicted more lawsuits involving smokeless tobacco.

Ponvert said Hill was 42 and had been chewing the company’s spit tobacco products since he was 13.

House GOP picks committee leaders

WASHINGTON – Hal Rogers, who over a 30-year career in Congress has honed his skills at winning pork-barrel projects for his constituents back in Kentucky, is in line to head the House committee that next year will spearhead the Republican drive to trim the fat off federal spending.

The House Republican Steering Committee announced Tuesday that it was recommending Rogers to chair the 60-member Appropriations Committee.

Rogers was one of some 20 Republicans tapped to chair committees next year, including Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, a moderate chosen to lead the Energy and Commerce Committee.

The chairmanship lineup for the new session of Congress to convene in January will be confirmed today at a full meeting of Republican House members.

Among other chairmen- designates were Doc Hastings of Washington for Natural Resources; Buck McKeon of California for Armed Services; Ileana Ros- Lehtinen of Florida for Foreign Affairs; Peter King of New York for Homeland Security; David Camp of Michigan for Ways and Means and Spencer Bachus of Alabama for Financial Services.

Treasury: Citi bailout profitable

LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Treasury said late Monday that its $45 billion bailout of banking giant Citigroup Inc. produced a $12 billion profit for taxpayers.

The Treasury said it sold the last of its Citi stock – 2.4 billion shares – to private investors at $4.35 apiece, raising $10.5 billion.

Combined with proceeds from previous Citi stock sales as well as dividend and interest income paid over the last two years, the government said it took in a total of $57 billion.

“By selling all the remaining Citigroup shares today, we had an opportunity to lock in substantial profits for the taxpayer and avoid all future risk,” Tim Massad, acting assistant secretary for financial stability, said in a statement.

Citi and Bank of America were the two biggest bank recipients of government aid under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Each bank got $45 billion.


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