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Federal appeals court upholds dismissal of suits against tobacco companies

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] on Wednesday upheld the dismissal [opinion, PDF] of a consolidated lawsuit brought against various tobacco companies. The 750 consolidated individual cases included:

588 personal injury cases filed on behalf of purportedly living cigarette smokers who, as it turns out, were dead at the time of filing (a group we shall call the "predeceased plaintiffs"), 160 loss of consortium cases filed on behalf of spouses and children of these predeceased plaintiffs, and two wrongful death cases filed more than two years after the decedent-smoker's death.
The cases, all filed by the same law firm, were consolidated by the courts due to "patent defects" resulting from "counsel's failure to obtain accurate information regarding whether or when certain smokers died." The consolidated cases before the Eleventh Circuit stem from the class action case R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Engle and subsequent decisions, including a 2006 decision by the Florida Supreme Court [official website] decertifying the class and vacating a $145 billion jury verdict against a group of cigarette manufacturers.

International and national governments are making considerable efforts to reduce the prevalence of smoking and tobacco use. In August the World Health Organization [official website] called for strict regulation [JURIST report] of electronic cigarettes, including a ban on the usage of the devices in public places and advertising targeting minors. In June the Supreme Administrative Court of Thailand approved [JURIST report] a new regulation requiring packs of cigarettes sold in the Southeast Asian country to be 85 percent covered with graphic health warnings. In February the EU Parliament [official website] voted to approve [press release] an anti-tobacco law that requires cigarette makers to increase the size of health warnings on packets from 30 percent to 65 percent of the surface of the package.

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