Whether the several secret deals reached last month in BP Amoco’s deadly brain cancer cases are to be kept secret appears to have come down to a rare war of wills between the presiding judge of the Cook County Law Division in Illinois and the lawyers for both the company and the settling plaintiffs.

The acrimony between the jurist and the settling parties escalated Tuesday when Circuit Court Judge Judith Cohen rejected outright the lawyers’ “emergency” request that she approve their plan to publicly disclose only that small portion of the settlements relating to the cancer victims’ actual deaths.

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