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Four years — and billions of dollars in fee awards — after the nationwide tobacco settlement, the litigation gold rush goes on. Among attorneys mining their share, Northeastern University School of Law Professor Richard Daynard seems an unlikely candidate to be taking on two of tobacco’s richest and most powerful plaintiffs’ lawyers, Ronald Motley of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.’s Ness Motley Loadholt Richardson & Poole and Richard Scruggs of Pascagoula, Miss. Daynard, a career academic and tobacco crusader, claims that the pair reneged on a handshake deal to cut him in on their fees. As his suit moves forward, it is providing an inside look at the way lawyers finagled fees in the tobacco litigation — and the lengths they’ll go to protect their hoard. Since 1984, Daynard has piloted the Tobacco Products Liability Project, which provides research help to lawyers suing tobacco companies. In 1993 Motley and Scruggs asked him to help plan their evolving multistate assault on the tobacco industry. Daynard — who has been hailed as a pioneer in several recent books on the smoking wars — gave the pair what he calls an “entr�e to tobacco control,” which included access to key experts, documents, witnesses, and strategies. In return for his help, Daynard claims, Motley and Scruggs promised he would be paid. The figure was pinned down in 1996, when, Daynard asserts, Scruggs pledged 5 percent of the combined payout that was coming to his and Motley’s firms. Daynard says that the deal was sealed with a handshake. After the tobacco industry agreed to settle the states’ claims for $246 billion in 1997, Motley’s and Scruggs’ firms (Scruggs was then with Pascalouga’s Scruggs, Millette, Bozeman & Dent) were awarded more than $3 billion in fees. But Daynard says that when he asked for what he considered to be his share, he was rebuffed. Daynard sued last December in Boston federal court, charging his former allies with breach of contract and deceptive business practices. “They want to keep it all,” he says. “It’s going to turn out they did a lot of these deals on a handshake.” Motley and Scruggs, however, maintain that Daynard dreamed up the deal, insisting that he was merely a public health advocate and consultant who, as Motley puts it, “got greedy.” Scruggs calls Daynard a “mercenary” and his claims “far-fetched.” But at least one of Motley and Scruggs’ allies supports Daynard’s version of events: Florida lawyer Fredric Levin of Pensacola, Fla.’s Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Echsner & Proctor, who cut his own handshake deal with the duo in 1995. Early in the tobacco litigation, Levin brought Motley and Scruggs into Florida’s case, one of the first state suits against the industry. The lawyers reciprocated by pledging to pay him an 8 percent referral fee, an oral promise they delivered on in 1998 to the tune of $300 million. Daynard, Levin says, was a “key part” of the state cases. The professor, he adds, always made it clear that he expected to be paid. For now, Scruggs has managed to stall Daynard’s suit with a series of dilatory tactics, contesting jurisdiction in Massachusetts, and arguing, along with Motley, that the Scruggs-Motley “joint venture” did not begin until 1999. Daynard seems unfazed by the uphill battle the next months will bring. But then, after 20 years fighting tobacco companies, he’s faced bigger fires before. Related chart: Intramural Squabbles

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