Law Suit Challenges Constitutionality of Proposed Deal - Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) - July 7, 1997

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
July 7, 1997

A new class action law suit challenging the constitutionality of portions of the proposed tobacco deal has been filed in Chicago.

Below is a copy of a press release describing the legal action, and a copy of the entire complaint is on another file which is referenced below. The complaint file itself is over 350K, and will take several minutes to download.

Other lawyers may wish to consider filing similar suits before congressional action is taken which may make such actions more difficult.

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CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 7, 1997--In light of the recent proposed $368 billion settlement between Big Tobacco companies and a group of attorneys general, the Chicago law firm of Kenneth B. Moll & Associates Ltd. responded by filing a class action lawsuit on behalf of all Illinois residents whose rights would be affected if the settlement is approved by Congress and the Clinton administration.

The lawsuit, known as the ``Daley Class Action,' was filed Monday, July 7, 1997, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Ill. The complaint names 32 defendants, including the major tobacco manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and industry groups.

The Daley plaintiffs are suing on behalf of a class made up of over 3 million Illinois residents who have suffered death, numerous diseases, and other damages due to nicotine addiction and the harmful effects of tobacco.

According to health statistics:

  • Each year, there are over 20,000 overall tobacco related deaths in Illinois;
  • Every day more than 55 Illinois residents die from tobacco use;
  • Approximately 2,000 additional Illinois residents die each year from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke;
  • Currently, there are over 3 million smokers in Illinois (1 million of which are under the age of 18);
  • 16.2 percent of high school boys use smokeless tobacco; and
  • Each year, medical costs directly related to smoking are almost $2 billion.

Attorney Kenneth Moll said, ``A primary goal of the Daley Class Action is to preserve the most efficient and adequate means of recovery for all persons who have been injured by the defendants' harmful tobacco products and wrongful conduct.'

Moll said he is concerned that the settlement agreement, if approved in its present form, will deny many potential plaintiffs their constitutional right to full recovery for their losses.

``There are simply too many provisions in this settlement that would allow Big Tobacco companies to continue to rack up huge profits and continue to manufacture and sell dangerous products, while severely restricting their victims' rights to legal redress,' said Moll.

Moll's concerns, shared by many plaintiffs' attorneys nationwide, are summarized as follows:

Class Actions Banned: The proposed tobacco settlement would prohibit all plaintiffs' class actions against tobacco companies, thereby precluding ``one of the most effective and efficient procedural vehicles available to consumers and the courts,' explained Moll. ``There are over 3 million potential plaintiffs in the state of Illinois alone,' said Moll. ``To be required to file individual lawsuits on behalf of each and every plaintiff would simply be an unmanageable burden on the judicial system-and the plaintiffs themselves.'

No Punitive Damages: Under the proposed tobacco settlement, all punitive damages would be banned. ``This would undermine the legal system, denying plaintiffs their constitutional right to due process, while setting a dangerous precedent which could be applied to other industries that manufacture and sell unreasonably dangerous products,' said Moll. ``To eliminate punitive damages in light of all the documentation and proof that we now have against the Tobacco Industry would be a slap in the face to millions of victims who have suffered and continue to suffer as a result of the defendants' wrongful conduct.'

Compensatory Damages Capped: ``The proposed tobacco settlement would limit the yearly dollar amount the tobacco companies would be forced to pay out for injuries to plaintiffs to between $2.8 and 5 billion - an amount far short of what is necessary to compensate the millions of victims,' said Moll.

``There are over 400,000 tobacco related deaths each year in the United States. Not including all other injuries and diseases caused by tobacco, the 'Tobacco Cartel' would be limited to paying only $7,000 to $12,500 per death under the proposed tobacco settlement,' said Moll.