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Statement of Settlement with States
Baker & Taylor( 08/08/2000 )

Jim Ulsamer
Baker & Taylor Retail

Baker & Taylor, along with W.R. Grace, has decided to settle its legal dispute with the 18 states that had joined with the U.S. Department in alleging B&T had violated the federal False Claims Act and similar state laws. With this settlement B&T is released from all claims without admitting any wrongdoing.

Baker & Taylor spent nearly five years in litigation with the U.S. Justice Department on this issue. In July of last year, we settled all claims with the federal government, and the Justice Department released us from all civil liability, acknowledging that B&T did not admit guilt and that we continued to deny all allegations.

We have now entered into a joint settlement with the attorneys general of all the states that joined the federal suit. This settlement releases Baker & Taylor from claims by all state plaintiffs related to alleged violations of state laws.

W.R. Grace, which owned Baker & Taylor from 1970 to 1992 and was also named in the federal and state lawsuits, is also settling all government claims.

We decided that ending this five-year ordeal with a settlement is in the best interests of our customers, shareholders, and employees, and enables us to spend 100% of our time and energy growing our business and expanding our service to customers. Continuing litigation would have diverted our senior management from a number of new business initiatives designed to grow our company and serve our customers better. Since the terms of the consent decree do not require us to change any of our current business practices, agreeing to the settlement was a more prudent alternative.

While we won't have the satisfaction of being exonerated through the courts, this settlement - like the federal settlement - makes sound business sense. Many states joined the federal suit with the expectation that the U.S. Justice Department would carry the litigation, but with the federal settlement B&T was facing a prolonged legal discovery process by all 18 states. This could have disrupted our business for years.

We are happy to close this unfortunate chapter in the 172-year history of Baker & Taylor. We are gratified by all the support we have received from our thousands of library and retail customers around the world, and we look forward to a prosperous and exciting future serving our customers and the industry as the "any book wholesaler."

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