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HELENA — A multi-year standoff between major tobacco companies and the state of Montana appears to be coming to a close after Attorney General Tim Fox on Monday announced a substantial settlement with tobacco industry defendants and a guarantee of future payment to the state totaling more than $100 million.
The settlement came out of a lawsuit Fox’s office filed in April, charging that defendants had since 2006 been improperly withholding payments totalling $43 million agreed upon in an earlier Master Settlement Agreement between tobacco companies and multiple states.
“At the heart of this lawsuit is the Montana principle: a deal is a deal,” said Fox, speaking at the Department of Justice in Helena. “The MSA releases the defendant tobacco companies from liability for their deadly product in return for funds to protect our people, especially our youth, from lifetimes of chronic, deadly diseases. [They] reneged on the deal . . .