Judge Asked to Reconsider Tobacco Case Descisions
The government asked a federal judge to reconsider her decision to throw out two claims in a massive lawsuit against cigarette makers.
The Justice Department insisted the government should be allowed to recover $20 billion a year spent by Medicare and other federal health plans to treat smoking-related illnesses.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler threw out the claims in September, saying that if the government had wanted to recover expenses dating back to the 1950s it should have acted sooner.
In a Feb. 28 amended complaint released yesterday by the Justice Department, the government reasserted its claims "to recover from defendants . . . conditional Medicare payments made by the federal government for items or services to treat lung cancer [and] heart disease" caused by tobacco.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft is still reviewing the case, said Chris Watney, a spokeswoman.
The Justice Department suit accused the tobacco industry of putting profits before health by concealing data that showed nicotine is addictive and that smoking causes disease. Government lawyers also contended the industry targeted its advertising toward children as potential new smokers.
Cigarette makers agreed in 1998 to pay the states $252 billion to settle claims for smoking-related health costs.