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September 25, 2006

"Light" Cigarette Suit Certified As Class Action

Judge Jack B. Weinstein has granted class-action status to the lawsuit filed by "light" cigarette smokers who accuse tobacco companies of defrauding smokers into thinking cigarette brands labelled "light" or "low tar" were safer than regular cigarettes when they are not.  The class potentiallly includes anyone who bought cigarettes labelled "light" or "lights," beginning in the early 1970s.  Only a few months after an important legal victory represented by the dismissal of the Engle class action in Florida, the tobacco industry now faces a claim representing a potential $200 billion liability.  See Brad Dorfman's story for Reuters.

Judge Weinstein has a reputation for looking with favor upon class action claims and has presided over trials involving asbestos, Agent Orange, and handgun sales.  But in early March, he dismissed a class action claim brought under the Alien Tort Claims Act on behalf of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.  His certification of a class that would have included all current and former smokers who had been diagnosed with smoking related diseases was overturned in 2005 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

JDP

September 25, 2006 | Permalink

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