Vice Squad
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Tobacco Lawsuits in the Times

Vice Squad long has complained about the difficulty of keeping track of all of the lawsuits against tobacco manufacturers. Today's New York Times does a good job of describing the present state of play in the most significant cases, and mentions in passing that Philip Morris currently is a defendant in 454 lawsuits. And though the cigarette manufacturers haven't been as uniformly successful in defending lawsuits since the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement as they were prior to their pact with the states, they still are doing pretty well:
Since 1998, when the major tobacco companies settled lawsuits with the states for $246 billion over health care costs related to smoking, domestic cases involving Philip Morris as a defendant, alone or with other companies, have ended with 27 verdicts in favor of the defendants and 16 in favor of the plaintiffs, with potential combined awards of $948 million.

But the company has appealed 13 of those cases. Of the remaining three, Philip Morris paid plaintiffs in two, for a total of $20.3 million. The other case was dismissed.

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