Panel says Oregon owed $9 million from settlement



SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Department of Justice says a panel of arbitrators has ordered tobacco companies to pay Oregon $9 million withheld from a 2003 payment under the multistate settlement over tobacco-related diseases.

Tobacco companies argued that they should not have to make full payments because Oregon and other states didn’t “diligently enforce” provisions of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. The settlement requires states to collect escrow payments on cigarette sales by tobacco companies that did not join the agreement.

The state says arbitrators ruled Wednesday that Oregon did not fail to enforce that provision.

Tobacco companies agreed to pay billions to Oregon and 45 other states.