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Government's Lead Lawyer Quits Tobacco Case

posted on December 2, 2005

The lead trial lawyer for the government's landmark lawsuit against the tobacco industry has quit the case and left the Justice Department, a move that comes at a sensitive time when the companies and the department still could negotiate a settlement.

Sharon Eubanks, who had aggressively pursued the racketeering case against the tobacco industry, was withdrawing effective Dec. 1, the government said in a one-sentence filing in U.S. District Court in Washington.

Eubanks said her supervisors' failure to support her work on the tobacco case influenced her decision to retire after 22 years with the department.

Her withdrawal follows a reversal in June in which the Justice Department disregarded the recommendations of its own witness -- Dr, Michael Fiore -- and reduced the amount it was demanding from the tobacco industry for smoking cessation programs to $10 billion. Fiore had proposed $130 billion.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the reasons for Eubanks' departure.

Tags: courts industry news smoking tobacco