After first being involved in litigation in the North Carolina Superior Court with the U.S. Tobacco Cooperative, Inc., Inc. f/k/a Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative Stabilization Corporation (“USTC” or “the Cooperative”) in 20005 through 2007, Shipman & Wright with its co-counsel brought suit against USTC in US District Court for the Eastern District in 2012, when it was approached by another group of tobacco farmers who were dissatisfied by the progress of the State court action.  Following a two-day mediation in May of 2017 with the Hon. Frank W. Bullock (Ret.), the plaintiffs (represented by Gary Shipman and Williams of Shipman & Wright and Leo Daughtry and Kelly Daughtry of Daughtry, Woodard, Lawrence and Starling) were able to negotiate a resolution of the Federal lawsuit on behalf of a class of current and former members of the Cooperative.

The Settlement provides for a $24 million settlement fund, from which the class of tobacco farmers who are current members or were former members of the Cooperative will be paid, and class representative incentive awards and attorney’s fees and expenses will also be paid. As part of the settlement, the Cooperative agreed to fund the comprehensive national notice plan to publicize the settlement and to fund the cost of the claims administration of the settlement, which provides approximately an additional $1.5 million in benefits to the class.  Following intensive briefing in support of both preliminary and final approval of the settlement, Judge James Dever, III finally approved the settlement on February 20, 2018.  Shipman & Wright is proud to provide these real benefits to tobacco farmers across the Southeast.

The deadline for Class Members to file a claim to receive benefits under the Settlement is May 26, 2018.  Shipman & Wright encourage all class members not to delay and file a claim.

For more information on the settlement please visit here.