An arbitration panel today ruled unanimously that the State of Iowa “diligently enforced“ state laws against tobacco companies that did not sign the $206 billion, 25-year Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 between tobacco companies and 46 states, including Iowa.
“Iowa exemplified a settling state,” the panel wrote in its 24-page decision.
The decision by the three-member panel is a significant legal victory for the state in a years-long dispute with major tobacco companies that have withheld a significant portion of their 2003 settlement payments to the MSA states and territories, including Iowa. The tobacco manufacturers pay billions annually to participating states in exchange for the states agreeing not to sue for health-related damages to citizens.
Seventeen states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico settled with the tobacco companies during the course of the arbitration process.