Federal Court Dismisses Falise Case Against Tobacco Companies
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 3, 1999--A federal court in New York has dismissed the massive Falise case filed against the tobacco industry by the Johns-Manville Trust, ruling there was no federal court jurisdiction.
Members of the trust sued the major tobacco companies to recover money paid by asbestos manufacturers to asbestos claimants in settlement or judgments, alleging that some of the claimants' injuries had been caused by a combination of smoking and asbestos exposure.
``We believed from the outset that this case had no legal or factual basis, and we're pleased by this dismissal,'' said John J. Mulderig, associate general counsel for Philip Morris, one of the defendants.
In the court's 36-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein said the court lacked jurisdiction over the dispute.
``Continuing jurisdiction of federal courts over litigation affecting a long-established (bankruptcy) trust such as this one is limited to relatively minor matters such as interpreting prior orders and regulating the processing of claims,'' Weinstein said in his order released late Monday. ``It does not extend to a major suit brought by the Trust against those not a party to the bankruptcy or to any closely related proceeding.''
Judge Weinstein said his ruling made it unnecessary to address other grounds for the tobacco companies' motion for summary judgment. That motion was based on the overwhelming legal authority that concludes third-party payor suits brought by asbestos manufacturers, labor funds and other third-party payors lack any legal or factual basis and should be dismissed.
The case is Falise et al. v. The American Tobacco Co. et al., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York.