Tobacco Lewis Settlement: Verifying 2000-2004 Crop Years

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The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center has received numerous telephone calls from former tobacco quota holders and their heirs related to the claims process for the Lewis Tobacco Settlement. According to our clients, many have received letters related to Chapter 11, Case No. 21-01511-JNC which states that a former Tobacco Cooperative member has failed to provide “suitable documentation to substantiate the claimed poundage for 2000-2004.“ Therefore, the claim that an individual has submitted faces a reduction or possible elimination due to inadequate documentation to substantiate the claimed poundage for 2000-2004.

Those who have received these letters are reminded that no one’s total claim is eliminated if verification of poundage for the other marketing years have been provided. This objection only pertains to pounds marketed to receiving stations purchasing on behalf of leaf dealers or manufacturers between 2000 and 2004. It has nothing to do with Cooperative marketed pounds between 1982-2004.

Until this time, much of the verified poundage for the marketing years of 2000-2004 was obtained from receiving station records of purchases from flue cured growers. Former warehouse operators can also provide records from the warehouse that show the grower purchases.

The claims process ended on July 14, so additional submissions are not being allowed. Former quota holders whose claims were partially disallowed because of problems proving poundage for all or portions of the years 2000-2004 can file a response to the objection in the Bankruptcy Court as the Notice of Objection provided.

Former quota holders, heirs, and previous growers have had 11 months to find and submit supporting documents and many have done so for the 2000-2004 sales to third parties. Any proof that established pounds marketed by grower/FC number/year to a non-cooperative entity was accepted.

Estimated Settlement Payment Timeline

It has been estimated by Mr. Alan Runyan, Qualified Settlement Fund Trustee, that the Court has to hear and rule on the objections for claimants who file a response. Responses are due August 14. It is expected for the Court to begin setting hearings in late September and they will probably extend into December. After the hearings are concluded and the Court has ruled on the objections, the Trustees will process the approved claims. This will likely take a month or so it is unlikely that any claimant will receive any payment until early spring of 2024.