District Court Erred In Certifying Class Action Against Tobacco Companies In “Light” Cigarettes Case Second Circuit Holds

Apr 4, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Second Circuit Rules District Court Erred in Certifying Class Action because Individual Proof of Reliance on Tobacco Companies’ Marketing of  “Light” Cigarettes would be Required

Stephanie Saul of The New York Times reports today on a “victory for the tobacco industry” – the Second Circuit opinion reversing class action certification of “an $800 billion class-action lawsuit on behalf of smokers who said they had been misled that light cigarettes were safer than regular ones.” (Our initial report on that decision may be found here, and our summary of the Circuit Court opinion may be found here.) Ms. Saul notes that the Second Circuit concluded it would not be possible “to generalize about why smokers chose light cigarettes.” And while the ruling may potentially impact some of the numerous similar class action lawsuits pending in other state and federal courts, the Times explains that the basis of this particular class action was not that smokers suffered personal injury from smoking “light” cigarettes, but rather that they suffered economically because had they known that “light” cigarettes were just as harmful as regular cigarettes, smokers would have purchased the less expensive, regular cigarettes. Ms. Saul notes also that many cases are waiting for the United States Supreme Court to weigh in on the issue, as a decision out of Maine is presently pending before the High Court.

Ms. Saul’s article, entitled “Appeals Court Panel Throws out Class Action Over Light Cigarettes,” may be found in Section C of the April 4, 2008 edition of The New York Times.

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