Supreme Court won’t hear Big Tobacco’s Appeal
Also from the Times today: The Supreme Court will not hear an appeal from Big Tobacco on a Florida Supreme Court case. The Florida Supremes ruled that individual plaintiffs in future lawsuits against tobacco companies will be able to rely on a jury's finding that cigarette makers knowingly witheld information about the hazards and risks fo smoking and "put unreasonably dangerous products on the market." By refusing to hear the case, the Supremes have sealed the deal on this Florida ruling.
In the Florida case, the court overturned a punitive damages award of $145 billion against the tobacco industry and ruled that a class action lawsuit was not appropriate. The court, however, did leave the door open for individual claimants, and would allow those claimants to rely on the jury findings described above.
Obviously, tobacco companies do not want this information being used in future lawsuits. Perhaps with fresh juries and a fresh spin on the facts, developed over the 8 years since the Florida ruling, they would be able to avoid paying the public back for its harmful practices. To that possibility, the Supreme Court said, no thanks.
Given last term's pro-business theme, I am more than a little pleasantly surprised about this. Interestingly, the Times article is entitled "Justices Deal Setback to Tobacco Companies." It could also be entitled "Justices Refuse to Protect Big Tobacco from Effects of Misleading Marketing." But hey, let's not be sticklers here.