A lawyer who just concluded a successful suit against the Agriculture Department on behalf of black farmers has set his sights on the landmark 1998 tobacco settlement.

In a class action to be filed later this week, Alexander Pires Jr. of D.C.�s Conlon, Frantz, Phelan & Pires argues that the nation�s tobacco companies and 46 state attorneys general, with a web of fraud and broken promises, have produced thousands of silent victims: struggling tobacco farmers. Pires has traveled along the East Coast for the past two months in a push to sign up 2,000 plaintiffs for the suit, which will be brought in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. As many as 320,000 growers may one day be eligible to serve as plaintiffs, he says.

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