Tobacco Companies Win Dismissal of Two Union Funds Lawsuits
New York, Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Philip Morris Cos., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. and other U.S. tobacco companies won dismissal of a lawsuit by a union trust fund that sought to recover money spent treating smoking-related illnesses, Philip Morris
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Minneapolis upheld a lower court's decision on Sept. 1 to throw out the suit. The appeals court said the harm claimed by the plaintiffs was too far removed from the tobacco industry's alleged conduct.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta issued a similar decision in August.
While individual plaintiffs have met with some success suing the industry for damages, in only one case thus far has a third- party complaint -- such as one filed by a labor union -- successfully made its way to trial. More than 100 union trust funds seeking up to $2 billion brought such a case in Akron, Ohio, though a federal jury rejected their claims.
Similar claims have been dismissed before trial across the country. Federal appeals courts have said it would be difficult to assess damages against the tobacco companies when the plaintiffs are not the smokers themselves.
In December, the tobacco industry lost a bid to have a similar case thrown out, bucking the national trend. The decision by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington, D.C., allows a complaint brought by union health-care funds to proceed.
Philip Morris shares rose 44 cents to 29.69 in trading today. R.J. Reynolds rose 81 cent to 36.25; Loews Corp. rose 71 cent to 79.71; and British American Tobacco Plc's American depositary receipts fell 38 cents to 12.88.