Federal Appeals Court Dismisses Suits by Insurers, Labor Funds for Recovery of Tobacco-Related Health Care Costs
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals today dismissed lawsuits brought by two labor health funds and six statewide Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurers seeking money from the tobacco industry to pay for allege
The unanimous decision dismissing the cases in their entirety is the fourth federal appellate court to rule that the so-called ``third-party payor'' lawsuits have no basis in law and must be dismissed. No other federal appeals court has reached a different conclusion.
The appeals court repudiated a decision by U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York to allow a Blue Cross-Blue Shield case against the tobacco industry to proceed to trial next spring.
Writing for the three-judge panel, U.S. Circuit Judge Frank Easterbrook said Weinstein's ruling ``is a thinly-disguised refusal to accept and follow'' the Second Circuit's guidance in a similar union health fund case.
The Seventh Circuit opinion reverses the decision by a federal judge to allow a case brought by the insurance companies against the tobacco industry to proceed, and affirms an earlier dismissal by the trial court in two Illinois labor health fund cases.
``Today's decision, combined with those from the Second, Third and Ninth circuit appellate courts in similar cost recovery cases, should sound the death knell for these specious health care reimbursement lawsuits spawned by plaintiffs' lawyers,'' said Steven B. Rissman, assistant general counsel for Philip Morris.
Rissman said it is clear, based on the rulings issued by four federal appellate courts, that ``these cases have no merit and it's now time to end this mockery of what the Seventh Circuit today called 'me-too' suits against the tobacco industry.''