Appeals Court Rejects Tobacco Suit
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A federal appeals court has refused to revive a lawsuit by hospitals seeking reimbursement from tobacco companies after they treated poor patients with smoking-related illnesses.
Sixteen non-profit hospitals had claimed the companies conspired for more than 40 years to manipulate the nicotine content of cigarettes and deceived the public about the potential for addiction and other health risks.
They said they could have more effectively counseled patients to quit if the companies had not deceived the public about the risks.
But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that the damages were too speculative and the injuries too remote from the cigarette makers' alleged wrongdoing to force the companies to pay the costs.
If damages were allowed, the court said, lawsuits against automakers and other manufacturers could follow.
Judge Julio Fuentes said hospitals could sue car manufacturers simply by alleging that they ``conspired to keep defective vehicles on the road.''
``We doubt that would be in the interests of public policy,'' Fuentes said on behalf of a three-judge panel.