US judge throws out Liggett settlement

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A US federal judge this week threw out a preliminary class-action settlement against tobacco company Liggett Group, a unit of Brooke Group, court officials said yesterday. The settlement would have affected claims by millions of people who have smoking-related illnesses.

Judge Charles Haden withdrew his decision to expand a lawsuit by Earl Walker, of Putnam County, who is suing Ligget, based in Durham, North Carolina. Mr Walker smoked Liggett-brand cigarettes for many years and has lung cancer. Liggett manufactures Chesterfield, Lark, and L&M cigarettes. Judge Haden said in his ruling that a class-action case would have exposed Liggett to an excessive number of claims. He had granted preliminary approval to the class-action settlement last May. The settlement would have prevented smokers, victims of secondhand smoke and states that pay Medicaid bills for smoking diseases and others nationwide from suing Liggett Group for 25 years.