Federal appeals court decertifies class status of ‘light’ cigarette lawsuit

Federal appeals court decertifies class status of ‘light’ cigarette lawsuit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] Thursday overturned [opinion, PDF] class action certification for a lawsuit brought by "light" cigarette smokers against Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. [corporate websites] and other light cigarette makers. The class action, which included anyone who has ever bought light cigarettes since they hit the market in the 1970s, had alleged that tobacco companies used deceptive advertising tactics to mislead smokers in response to growing health concerns over the risks of smoking cigarettes. Attorneys for the tobacco companies argued that determining why every light cigarette consumer bought the product would be impossible and therefore made class certification impractical.

In September 2006, Judge Jack B. Weinstein [official profile] of the United States District Court in Brooklyn certified [JURIST report] the class of 50 million plaintiffs for the class-action suit. Lawyers estimated that sales of light cigarettes brought tobacco companies between $120 billion and $200 billion in extra sales since 1971. AP has more.