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Fighting the Smoking Man - The Life and Thoughts of Zach — LiveJournal

Oct. 30th, 2003

12:40 pm - Fighting the Smoking Man

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Date:October 31st, 2003 01:23 am (UTC)
I think I have to back up and take off my law-student hat and clarify a few things:

The tobacco settlement that springs to most people's minds when they think of big tobacco was just that -- a settlement among all the states for over $200 billion (http://www.lawpublish.com/settle.html). So yes, this part of the big tobacco litigation was a settlement.

But a big part of why the tobacco companies were willing to settle was because of _judgments_ against them that had been won by plaintiffs' lawyers in the courts (examples at http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/tobacco/englerjfinaljudorder.pdf and http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/tobacco/pricepm32103jud.pdf). Resource-wise (we've been talking about this in our mass-torts class), there's no way that the Attorneys General of all 50 states would want to go to trial against the tobacco companies when issues of liability had already been litigated and determined.

So there are both settlements and judgments going on. You're welcome to be angry at those who settled! But I think the attorneys did as much as the legal system allowed. The entire industry hasn't been revolutionized, but the information about the bad effects of cigarettes is accessible and was heard in open court. The regulation battle has to be fought legislatively, I think.

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