State board OKs settlement for Angelos

April 25, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

The state Board of Public Works unanimously approved a negotiated settlement yesterday that will pay attorney Peter G. Angelos $150 million over five years for his work on Maryland's lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

"I think this is truly a win for everybody," said Gov. Parris N. Glendening, one of three members of the public works board.

The agreement frees money that had been diverted by court order into an escrow account pending an end of the fee dispute, allowing the state to restore funds for smoking cessation and anti-cancer programs, the governor said.

Glendening oversaw negotiations with Angelos to lower the fee from the more than $1 billion the Orioles owner could have been paid.

Angelos originally agreed to handle the state's lawsuit on a contingency basis, signing a contract to give him 25 percent of money recovered. Maryland was part of a multistate settlement, which will yield the state $4.4 billion over two decades, meaning Angelos' fee would have topped $1 billion.

The General Assembly later passed a law reducing the fee to 12.5 percent, or about $500 million. But a national arbitration panel, examining Angelos' work, determined an acceptable fee would be $132 million.

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a longtime Angelos supporter and one of three Board of Public Works members, said yesterday that the board should have honored the contract it signed.

"I wonder about the integrity of the board when they talk about a contract," Schaefer said. Addressing Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who was briefing the board on the settlement, Schaefer said: "Don't you feel a little strange as a lawyer, beating down another lawyer on a fee?"

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