New York -- A Pennsylvania appeals court's finding that tobacco companies must pay some $125.8 million to the state as part of a 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement helps a handful of other states that are locked in similar battles with Big Tobacco in an underlying dispute over the terms of the pact, attorneys say.

An en banc panel of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court delivered a win for the state by upholding a lower court's position that an arbitration panel was wrong to assess a $125.8 million payment against the state over a dispute involving certain provisions in the Master Tobacco Settlement.

And according to some, the ruling represents a fairer allocation of the funds.

"This case will likely pave the way to more equitable settlement arrangements for states throughout the country," said Burt Rublin of Ballard Spahr LLP, which represented the Pennsylvania Cancer Alliance. The alliance represents a group of hospitals and cancer treatment centers, and it stands to receive the $125.8 million payment to support cancer treatment and research.

Rublin and David H. Pittinsky of Ballard Spahr represented the alliance pro bono, and as a friend of the court, and argued the case before the panel.

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