Share
Explore BrainMass

Tobacco Industry Lawsuits

Summarizes the current status of the lawsuits against the tobacco industry. Make sure your paper answers the following questions:

1. What is the legal basis for most of the current lawsuits? Negligence? Product Liability? Breach of Contract?
2. What are the defenses being argued by the tobacco industry?
3. Are the lawsuits being filed in Federal court, or in state courts, or both?
4. What kinds of results are you finding at the trial level? on appeal?
5. Which side is winning, the Plaintiffs or the tobacco industry?

Reference your source.

Solution Preview

The following is to assist you with references and documentation in relation to tobacco industry lawsuits.

1. What is the legal basis for most of the current lawsuits? Negligence? Product Liability? Breach of Contract?
There are several. One is a failure to properly warn the user that the use of tobacco might cause addiction to nicotine and has been known to cause cancer. Another basis is that the product is inherently dangerous and should not have been put into the stream of commerce. Unfortunately, courts have held that the use of tobacco is voluntary and most of the dangers are known, so the user knew this and chose to use it anyway. The companies also argue that the warning on the package is enough to satisfy the obligation to warn. These are near impossible cases to win.

2. What are the defenses being argued by the tobacco industry?
In the United States Supreme court case (No.90-1038), Thomas Cipollone versus Liggett & Meyers Group Inc, Cipollone lawyers argued that the tobacco industry hid the danger of smoking because of inadequate labeling.3 The outcome of the case was believed to be based on that the "Congress set both the minimum and maximum" of required information on the surgeon general's warning.4 Furthermore, individual states are not allowed to impose regulations or prohibitions of required warning labels on cigarette packs in their tort laws. In other words, the states are not allowed to impose different warnings labels. This federal restriction came under hectic discussions during this particular case. In the Cipollone case, the court could have ruled that plaintiffs cannot challenge the health warnings or the advertising, "Which bar most suits against cigarette manufacturers that allege fraud, failure to warn or misinterpretation."5 This would have been the best outcome for the tobacco industry. If the court would have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, thus giving them the right to bring tort suits challenging the cigarette maker's advertising, labeling and the adequacy of their health warnings, would have been the best outcome for smokers. Smokers would then have been free to sue cigarette companies for fraud, failure to warn or inform, and misrepresentation.

Cipollone versus Leggett & Meyers Group Inc. was a close call. The tobacco industry realized that, and they were able to settle the case for $400,000.6 According to a spokes person for Philip Morris Company; "Our view has always been that the cases do not belong in the courtroom." And that "People are aware of the claimed risks of cigarette smoking, so why should they get money?"7 At a first glance, the tobacco industry does seem the clear victory in the legal war over smoking. With the exception of the money award in Cipollone, no jury has assessed damages against a tobacco company.

On the other hand, the settlement laid ...

Solution Summary

The solution discusses tobacco industry lawsuits

$2.19