SACRAMENTO – Nov. 6, 2009 – Ducks Unlimited is among more than 100 non-profit groups to share $40 million in money left over from a $96 million class-action settlement with makers of chewing tobacco.
"After telling the story of DU's mission and statewide work in California to conserve waterfowl habitats, we received $800,000 in settlement funds to continue this important conservation effort," said Dr. Rudolph Rosen, director of DU's Western Regional Office in Sacramento, Calif.
Settlement funds came about through a suit that pitted the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company and related entities against claimants who believed the company monopolized the market for moist smokeless tobacco products in California, forcing them to pay too much for tobacco. Settlement money leftover after disbursement to claimants was distributed to nonprofit organizations. To satisfy claims from people who purchased small quantities, funds were distributed to charitable organizations rather than to the tobacco buyers themselves.
Rick Saveri, of Saveri & Saveri, Inc., law firm, who served as plaintiffs' co-liaison counsel, said defense lawyers at Latham and Watkins worked with him and others to determine which charities would receive the funds, based upon submissions of their work and needs.
"We saw the mission of DU in California to be geographically diverse and dedicated to substantial public services to Californians, especially those interested in waterfowl, hunting and wildlife habitat conservation," said Saveri about the decision to contribute funds to DU.
Types of organizations sharing in the settlement include environmental, recreational, military and civil service. These were selected because market research showed that adults involved in such organizations are often consumers of smokeless tobacco products.
Rosen said all settlement funds will be deposited in a special Wetlands and Waterfowl Enhancement Account, to be used exclusively in California and in a fashion that is geographically comprehensive throughout the state for advocacy, regulatory or education work to conserve wetlands water, waterfowl or waterfowl habitats.
With about 40,000 members in California and more than 650,000 nationwide, Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Guided by science, DU has conserved nearly 13 million acres and works toward a vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.
Dr. Rudolph Rosen