The Debt Vet

The Debt Vet If you'd like freedom from debt, call on The Debt Vet to guide you through an affordable bankruptcy. Attorney Jeffrey E.

West served his country, and now he serves Oklahomans with compassionate legal counsel.






To***co Cos. To Pay $200M To End Texas' Settlement Fight

Texas notified a federal court Wednesday that R.J. Reynolds To***co Co. and fellow to***co company ITG Brands LLC have agreed to pay a total of more than $200 million to end the state's suit to enforce a 1998 to***co settlement agreement.

Reynolds agreed to pay Texas roughly $173 million in funds owed to the state under the 1998 to***co master settlement for the years 2015 through 2020, plus $2.5 million in attorney fees. ITG agreed to pay Texas about $19 million for payments owed to the state in 2020, according to court documents. Reynolds has also agreed to pay about $17 million to to***co giant Philip Morris USA Inc., which joined the dispute and sided with Texas.

The settlement agreement filed in the Eastern District of Texas on Wednesday ends litigation launched by Texas in January 2019 after both Reynolds and ITG refused to make annual payments under the 1998 settlement agreement. That agreement requires to***co companies to pay annual amounts based on their cigarette sales in the state to cover costs incurred by Texas for to***co-related health issues.

Reynolds sold its Winston, Salem, Kool and Maverick cigarette brands to ITG in 2015, after which both companies denied responsibility and refused to make the payments, according to court documents. ITG, which was not a party to the original litigation, claimed it didn't assume any payment obligations through the sale.

Under Wednesday's agreement, ITG has agreed to assume all obligations and benefits for the four brands moving forward.

Counsel for the parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Texas originally sued The American To***co Co., Reynolds and nine other to***co companies, including Philip Morris, in 1996 for not being truthful about the dangers of smoking. Those claims were settled in 1998 for more than $15 billion, which included annual payments based upon sales in the state.

But after the 2015 deal between Reynolds and ITG, Texas moved in January 2019 to enforce the 1998 settlement agreement and reopened the litigation.

The Texas attorney general told the federal court in its motion to enforce the settlement that ITG owed the state about $125 million after its 2015 acquisition of the four brands, saying it had taken over the obligation to make payments under the settlement Reynolds had signed on to.

Philip Morris joined the reopened case, arguing in a February 2019 filing that ITG's faulty accounting practices in reporting sales to PricewaterhouseCoopers — the accounting firm responsible for calculating settlement payments — had "improperly shifted over $60 million" in its payment obligations to Philip Morris.

In February 2020, U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap ruled that Reynolds couldn't escape its obligation to make payments after its sale of the four brands to ITG.

The 2015 sale of the Reynolds brands to ITG was part of a divestment deal to get Federal Trade Commission approval for a $47 billion takeover of Reynolds by British American To***co PLC. The FTC was concerned that the transaction would make it easier for Reynolds and Philip Morris USA owner Altria Group Inc. to coordinate cigarette sales as the only two major competitors in the market.

Texas is represented by Christopher D. Hilton and Cynthia A. Morales of the Office of the Texas Attorney General.


We're knots about !



Tag a friend who loves their pet


House Votes To Extend Pandemic-Era Bankruptcy Relief

Just days before a key deadline, the House on Wednesday easily voted to extend personal and small business bankruptcy relief provisions that were part of last year's pandemic aid packages through March 2022.

The relief packages raised the maximum debt limit for small businesses using a streamlined bankruptcy process, and allowed individuals to seek COVID-19-related hardship modifications, among other changes. Bankruptcy provisions in the CARES Act are set to expire March 22, while others included in the December relief package have an end date of Dec. 27.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., sponsored the COVID-19 Bankruptcy Relief Extension Act, which would extend certain elements until March 27, 2022. The bipartisan measure passed the House on a 399-14 vote with all opposition coming from Republicans, mostly members of the conservative Freedom Caucus.

"These provisions were enacted last year to provide critical relief to families and small businesses forced into bankruptcy due to the ongoing pandemic," Nadler said Tuesday on the House floor. "Extending these necessary protections until March of next year will provide much-needed certainty that the bankruptcy system will remain responsive to debtors and creditors alike during this extraordinarily disruptive crisis."

Rep. Ben Cline of Virginia, the Republican co-sponsor, noted that pandemic lockdowns started just weeks after the Small Business Reorganization Act took effect in February 2020. He said nearly a third of the small businesses entering that streamlined bankruptcy process over the last year would not have been eligible if the CARES Act had not raised the maximum debt limit.

"Our districts depend on their small businesses," Cline said Tuesday on the House floor. "Those who endeavor to open and run a small business are proud of their work and their standing in our communities. Unfortunately, they also take on a sometimes insurmountable financial burden. And as we've seen over the last year, when they're forced to close, it has a great impact on the rest of us."

The extended measures would prevent COVID-19 relief funds from being counted as income or estate property for the purpose of bankruptcies; allow individuals and families making payments under a Chapter 13 plan to seek payment modifications for COVID-19-related hardships; and bar individuals and families in bankruptcy proceedings from being required to put down a deposit to maintain utility services.

The bill would also establish that individuals and families in bankruptcy are eligible for CARES Act mortgage forbearance and eviction moratorium provisions, and ensure that families in Chapter 13 bankruptcy plans who have made all plan payments but have missed three or fewer mortgage payments can still discharge their debts.

For creditors, the extended provisions would create a process allowing them to file proofs of claim for payments deferred during COVID-19 forbearance periods and for the modification of Chapter 13 plans to take such claims into account.

On the business front, the bill would extend the increase of the maximum debt limit for eligibility to use the streamlined bankruptcy procedures in the Small Business Reorganization Act from $2.7 million to $7.5 million, and exempt customs brokers who collect and pay duties to U.S. Customs and Border Protection on behalf of importers from having payments that were made by those importers clawed back during bankruptcy proceedings.

Spokespeople for sponsors of the House bill and an identical Senate bill did not respond to questions Tuesday about plans for Senate action ahead of the March 22 expiration date.


Minneapolis To Pay George Floyd's Family $27M To End Suit
Minneapolis will pay the family of George Floyd $27 million to end a Minnesota federal suit accusing the city of a history of unconstitutional policing practices that ultimately led to Floyd's death at the hands of the police, the family, its legal team and city officials announced Friday.

A copy of the settlement has not been made public. At a news conference, Floyd's family members and their legal team lauded the city for coming to the agreement, with both sides noting that an additional $500,000 will be set aside to support businesses in the neighborhood where Floyd was killed last year.

One of the Floyd family's attorneys, Ben Crump, called it the largest pretrial settlement in a police violence case in U.S. history. Another, Chris Stewart, said that the settlement is deeper than a large financial number.

"The number today changes evaluations and civil rights for a Black person when they die," he said. "Because what you don't know is the rigged game that we always have to play when we take one of these cases. Because African Americans are not valued high when they are murdered by law enforcement in these cases. And we are changing that precedent."

Stewart said the settlement will trickle down to communities across the country.

"When there's a city council or a mayor deciding, 'Should we get rid of no-knock warrants? Should we get rid of chokeholds? Should we change these policies?' They have 27 million reasons now why they should," he said.

Floyd's killing in May sparked a wave of demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality worldwide. Three police officers kneeled on Floyd while he was face-down in the street, according to the complaint, and Derek Chauvin, who is also named in the suit, drove his knee into Floyd's neck as Floyd begged for his life. Officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are also named in the suit, which was filed in July.

Chauvin is currently on trial and facing murder charges for his role in the killing.

Lane and Kueng were first to arrive at the scene after a call alleging that Floyd had engaged in potential fraud. The two officers arrested and handcuffed a compliant Floyd before Chauvin and Thao also arrived on the scene, according to the complaint.

The officers then placed Floyd face-down on the street "without provocation or justification," and Chauvin drove his knee into the back of Floyd's neck while Lane and Kueng kneeled on his back and legs, according to the complaint. Thao stood feet away from Floyd's head and the other officers.

Floyd repeatedly told the officers he couldn't breathe and said, "Tell my kids I love them — I'm dead," according to the complaint. Chauvin readjusted his leg to increase the amount of force exerted by his knee on Floyd's neck before Floyd spoke his last words: "Please — I can't breathe." Floyd was kept face-down on the ground with the weight of the officers on his neck and back for approximately eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Minneapolis frequently fails to terminate or discipline officers who show patterns of misconduct, and the police department has a history of overlooking racially biased policing, the civil complaint said. The city also had notice of several prior incidents of excessive force, it said.

According to the complaint, Chauvin was the subject of 17 citizen complaints from 2006 to 2015, only one of which resulted in discipline, in the form of a letter of reprimand. He also shot and killed at least three people and engaged in a reckless police chase in 2005 resulting in three deaths, the complaint said.

Thao netted six citizen complaints from 2013 to 2017, none of which resulted in discipline, and he was the subject of an excessive force lawsuit that Minneapolis settled on his behalf, according to the complaint.

The Minneapolis Police Department trains its officers to use deadly force, including neck restraints, in nondeadly circumstances, the suit said. The use of deadly force in circumstances that do not pose an immediate threat of serious bodily injury or death is prohibited by the Fourth Amendment, the complaint said.

Minneapolis policing data shows that since 2012, neck restraints were used by its police officers on 428 people at an average rate of about once per week, according to the complaint. The training offered by the city to officers, including those named in the complaint, encouraged officers to "compress veins, arteries, nerves and muscles of the neck" of arrestees.

After a 2010 incident in which Minneapolis police officers tasered, handcuffed and knelt on the back of David Smith, a man experiencing mental illness who died from his injuries, the city paid a settlement that included an agreement it would require sworn police officers to undergo training on positional asphyxia.

But internally, the Minneapolis Police Department promoted a "false narrative" that deaths like those of Smith were the result of "excited delirium" instead of asphyxiation. Lane had said as he and the other officers were kneeling on Floyd that he was concerned about "excited delirium, or whatever," according to the complaint, which Schaffer said shows Minneapolis police's failure to properly train on asphyxiation risks.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey repeatedly thanked Floyd's family for pushing for legislative change.

"Today's settlement reflects our shared commitment to advancing racial justice, our sustained push for progress, our commitment to Minneapolis, and our commitment and compassion to one another," he said.


Pi Day celebrates the mathematical constant π (3.14). It is celebrated in countries that follow the month/day (m/dd) date format, because the digits in the date, March 14 or 3/14, are the first three digits of π (3.14). Pi Day was founded by Physicist Larry Shaw in 1988.


National Plant a Flower Day
and look forward to the spring season ahead


Now is the right time to take action on freedom from unwanted debt once and for all. Let’s talk!


Is Chapter 13 right for you?

If you have assets or make too much to qualify for Chapter 7 (total discharge of your debts), you may qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

This method allows you to reorganize your debt so you can repay it fast and more effectively in three to five years.

Talk to our attorney to learn more about Chapter 13 and whether it is right for you.

In all forms of bankruptcy, you need an experienced attorney who can guide you to make the right financial decisions for your situation.

Call Today for a Free Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Consultation (405) 616-4949

or visit us online at


Science Day


If only everyone got as excited as kids when asked to play the game


According to Bloomberg’s Recession Tracker, the likelihood of a recession within the next year rose to 53% this month, up from 28% just a month ago. Meanwhile, other analysts are predicting that a global recession is already upon us. With the new coronavirus causing unpredictable turbulence in the markets and forcing consumers to sequester themselves at home, possibly losing wages and curbing spending, it seems more likely that the long-awaited recession is now on our doorsteps.

If we are truly on the verge of recession, what could that mean for bankruptcies?

For the first time in a decade, bankruptcy filings are on the rise. And there are several factors that could cause an even further increase. For More Information and to find out if Bankruptcy is the right choice for you call today.


Mardi Gras in New Orleans typically means dancing in the streets, standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers, and watching one parade after another roll by while slowly becoming a human bead tree. But Mardi Gras 2021 will be different.

Parades won’t roll. There will be no large crowds or events. The health and safety of our community is a priority, but that doesn’t mean Mardi Gras is canceled.


LG Chem Unit Must Face Exploding Battery Suit In NJ
A New Jersey state judge refused Friday to toss claims a LG Chem Ltd. unit is responsible for a battery in an e-cigarette that exploded in a man's pants, instead giving him a chance to ensure he's suing the proper company, citing the harm caused by such batteries in the state.

During a Zoom hearing, Superior Court Judge Stephan C. Hansbury denied without prejudice LG Chem America Inc.'s bid to escape Anthony Ventralla's suit after the subsidiary's attorney had indicated that, if the battery in question was manufactured by an LG Chem entity, it would have been the South Korean parent.

The judge said "the fact of the matter is the defendant here or another related company, as we found out today ... their batteries are in the state of New Jersey hurting people."

"I cannot in good conscience just say, 'OK, you're not in the case, go ahead,' because I know the damage that's being created, and I wouldn't be much of a judge if I didn't do what I could to try and protect other people from being hurt," said Judge Hansbury, adding that "there's not sufficient basis for me to conclude jurisdiction at this point in time."

Ventralla and his wife and fellow plaintiff, Alison Lenihan, will have 90 days to conduct jurisdictional discovery to make sure they're suing the appropriate defendant and find out how the batteries are getting into the Garden State, according to the judge. The judge pointed to similar cases around the state that involve the batteries.

"Those batteries are here, they're hurting people and if this defendant has sufficient jurisdictional connection to New Jersey, then so be it. He's here for a while. But I can't say that today," the judge said.

Ventralla has claimed that an "LG HG2 battery" was included in the Aspire e-vaping device that he bought at Good Guy V**es in Rockaway, New Jersey, according to his June 5 complaint against that retailer, Aspire V**e Co., and LG Chem America. The complaint said LG Chem America designed, manufactured or produced the battery.

Following his purchase, the exterior wrapping of the battery began to tear, the complaint said. Good Guy V**es rewrapped the battery and told Ventralla that it was safe to use the e-cigarette, the complaint said. On July 2, 2018, the battery exploded and caused him to suffer second-degree burns, according to the complaint.

In seeking to dismiss the claims against LG Chem America, the business has asserted its sales in New Jersey are limited to petrochemical products — such as engineered plastic and specialty polymers — and that it does not manufacture the batteries at issue in the case.

"Where Good Guy V**es obtained the battery from, we don't know, but it did not come from LG Chem America Inc. in this matter," the company's attorney told Judge Hansbury during Friday's hearing.

LG Chem America "never manufactured, designed or sold the incident battery cell that's alleged to be involved in this case,".

Rehberger later noted that he had told the plaintiffs' counsel in a letter that, if the battery was a LG Chem battery, it would have been manufactured by the parent company and that LG Chem America thus had no liability in the case and should be dismissed.

"Setting aside ... the issue of jurisdiction, just so I understand, are you saying he has the wrong defendant? Is that what you're saying?" the judge asked Rehberger, who replied, "Yes."

Ventralla's attorney later pointed to the challenge of untangling LG Chem's corporate structure, saying there's a "maze" of entities.

"Perhaps that's by design to try to avoid responsibility for their products, but we feel there's ample evidence, certainly at this stage ... without any discovery, to allow this case to continue against LG Chem America in this matter," Leonard told the judge.

After Judge Hansbury cited the lack of evidence tying LG Chem America to the batteries, Leonard said "it's our understanding that these products were made by LG Chem America or they had involvement."

"That's part of the challenge that we have as a plaintiff, without any discovery, is we don't have the information specifically dealing with ... that issue," Leonard added.


Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy presents a unique opportunity for people to have a “do over” on their credit history. The downside is that you have to start building your credit again all over. The upside is that your credit was probably already seriously damaged before filing for bankruptcy, so this is the fresh start you were seeking. Most people can be approved for credit as soon as two years after their bankruptcy, as long as they maintain good financial practices. For More Information and a Free Bankruptcy Consultation please call (405) 616-4949 or visit us online at


2525 NW Expressway, Ste 460
Oklahoma City, OK

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 5pm
Friday 9am - 5pm




Be the first to know and let us send you an email when The Debt Vet posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Contact The Business

Send a message to The Debt Vet:



Nearby law practices

Other Bankruptcy Lawyers in Oklahoma City

Show All

You may also like