Philip Morris says labor union cases dimissed in NY
NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - Philip Morris Cos. Inc. said on Tuesday that a New York Supreme Court justice has dismissed 10 labor union health care reimbursement cases, saying the funds had no legal basis to bring the claims.
The 10 cases were filed by 14 New York labor union health funds, all of which sought to recover the health care costs associated with alleged smoking-related illnesses of the funds' members.
The world's largest cigarette maker said in a statement that Justice Charles Ramos issued his opinion on March 3, and it was made available to the parties late yesterday.
``This is the latest in a long line of state and federal court decisions which conclude that health care reimbursement cases against the tobacco industry - whether brought by labor funds, Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, foreign countries or HMOs - lack a legal basis and should be thrown out,'' said Steven Rissman, senior assistant general counsel for Philip Morris.
``Precious few of the 80 or so reimbursement cases that were filed over the past three years survive and we are fast approaching the day when the contrived legal theory underlying these opportunistic lawsuits will be relegated to the legal footnote it deserves,'' Rissman added.
In dismissing the cases, Justice Ramos said there ``can be no direct link between the alleged misconduct of (the tobacco companies) and the alleged damage to the funds, as the damage to the funds is remote, indirect, and derivative of third parties (the union members),'' according to the New York-based maker of Marlboro cigarettes.