Union Trusts Can't Sue Tobacco Cos.
Union trust funds in Oregon can't sue tobacco companies for the smoking-related health costs of union members, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's ruling last August that only individual union members, and not the union trust funds that cover their health care, could sue tobacco companies.
Two federal appeals courts in other states have reached the same conclusion. The trust funds have not been given the same legal standing as state governments, which can sue tobacco companies for the costs of caring for state residents.
The trust funds accused eight companies of conspiring to hide the dangers of smoking since the 1950s and to suppress the development of safer cigarettes. The suit said the companies' conduct led to increased smoking and higher health care costs.
Upholding a ruling by U.S. District Judge Malcolm Marsh, the appeals court said the suit had to be dismissed because the companies' alleged conduct was not closely connected to the harm claimed by the trust funds.