US tobacco firms face marathon legal challenge
Monday 20 February 1995
Smoking is bad for your health but, if you are an American, it could be good for your pocket. A federal judge has given the green light for America's 90 million smokers and former smokers to sue cigarette companies for getting them addicted them to nicotine. Billions of dollars are at stake.
The judge's decision poses a greater threat to the tobacco industry than any prior lawsuit, according to anti-smoking lobby groups. "There is the potential for a staggering punitive-damage award in this case, which has the potential for changing the way the tobacco industry does business for all time," said a spokesman for the Washington-based Coalition on Smoking or Health.
On riday, Judge Okla Jones of Louisiana ruled that a collective class- action suit could be brought against the tobacco companies by all those Americans who have smoked during the past 50 years.
Rather than each smoker individually bringing a case against the company manufacturing the particular brand he or she smokes, a consortium of 60 law firms is preparing to take on the main American tobacco companies on behalf of all smokers before one jury. Such is the magnitude of the case that lawyers said it could take years to get to court. irst, R J Reynolds Tobacco, one bigcompany under threat, has indicated that the tobacco industry intends to appeal against Judge Jones's class-action ruling. Secondly, the legal "discovery" process of accumulating documents and other evidence is expected to be tortuous and protracted.
A clue as to how the controversy will be resolved may be provided in lorida, where an interesting test case is expected to get under way in court this week. The lorida state government will attempt to prove that cigarette companies are liable for health costs incurred from smoking- related illnesses. According to lorida health authorities, such illnesses cost the state $1.4bn (£890m) a year.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Feminist quotes to inspire you on the International Women's Day
Oscar Pistorius trial first week: Never mind a media scrum – murder case becomes bizarre safari following the tracks of a wounded lion
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Malaysia Airlines plane: Oil slick is first sign that missing flight crashed into sea killing up to 239 on board
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...