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Canada has spent $13 million on its U.S. civil suit against the tobacco industry in what is shaping up to be the most expensive legal battle ever fought by that country's federal government.
Since December 1999, when it launched its unprecedented civil fraud action for alleged smuggling against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., related companies and the Canadian Tobacco Manufacturers Council, the federal government has paid six U.S law firms more than $9-million in Iegal fees, according to the Canadian Department of Justice internal records obtained by The Lawyers Weekly.
The government's record legal bill for its tobacco suit in fiscal 2000-2001, $5.6-million, nearly quadruples the previous annual high-water mark of $1.5-million paid to a Washington law firm that protects Canada's interests in international trade disputes. Government officials are optimistic about recapturing the $13 million in legal fees plus millions more in damages, a government spokesman said. No timeframe has been given for the case to go before a jury.