Nigeria files $44B lawsuit against tobacco companies

[JURIST] The government of Nigeria [JURIST news archive] filed a lawsuit [BBC report] in a Nigerian federal court Wednesday against local tobacco producer International Tobacco Company, Ltd. and international tobacco producers British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International [corporate websites]. The lawsuit seeks upwards of $40 billion in damages for costs for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases in Nigeria and for the sale of cigarettes to minors in Nigeria. Also included in the lawsuit was a request to the court for an injunction preventing the marketing and sale of cigarettes to minors. Reuters has more. CNN/Dow Jones has additional coverage. The Daily Trust of Abuja has local coverage.

The Nigerian lawsuit comes as another in a succession of lawsuits brought by governments against tobacco companies [JURIST news archive] for health care costs associated with the treatment of tobacco-related diseases. Similar lawsuits have been filed in South Korea, Japan, and Canada. [JURIST reports] The federal government, 46 US states, and a number of US territories settled litigation [US Department of Justice backgrounder] against a number of tobacco companies in November 1998 [settlement summary] for damages stemming from tobacco-related health care costs. In 2006, a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the tobacco industry [JURIST news archive] was liable for civil racketeering charges filed against the industry by the Department of Justice in 1999. In a lawsuit out of Oregon, the US Supreme Court earlier this year overturned an $80 million punitive damages award [JURIST report] against Philip Morris. The jury made the award because it found the marketing tactics of Philip Morris were "reprehensible," but the Supreme Court found the damages to be improper.



 

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