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Court approves tobacco settlement agreement

On Feb. 20, U.S. District Court Judge James Dever entered an order in federal district court approving the proposed settlement agreement in Speaks v. U.S. Tobacco Cooperative.

To receive a payment, class members must submit a claim by May 26. Claims may be filed online at or by downloading a claim form from the website, completing it, and mailing to Settlement Claims Administrator, 5773 PO Box 2612, Fairbault, MN 55021-9612. 

In their complaint against U.S. Tobacco Cooperative (USTC), the Speaks plaintiffs alleged on behalf of a class of current and former USTC members that, among other things, USTC’s purpose as an organization ended with enactment of the 2004 federal tobacco buyout. The plaintiffs asked the District Court of Eastern North Carolina to order USTC to distribute its assets to the class. Under the approved agreement, USTC will pay $24 million over five years to settle the case. Of the settlement amount, $22 million will be used to make cash payments to class members. 

According to the settlement agreement, class members include “individuals, proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and other entities” that were or are members of USTC since June 1, 1946. The class also includes “any heirs, representatives, executors, powers-of-attorney, successors, assigns, or others purporting to act for or on their behalf with respect to” USTC.

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