[Homestead] Put Big Tobacco out of business, compensate ALL victims
tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Sep 14 22:02:40 EDT 2004
As a former builder, owner, operator of a small cigarette factory, I
support ending this mass-murder business---remember the scumbag CEO at a
Congressional Hearing, saying cigarettes were no more addictive than his
"Gummy Bears"---got away with it too, should have gone to prison a
long,long, long time for perjury.
It is enormously profitable---our little factory with a tiny $55,000
capital, after ninety days, net-netted $1500 per day, $97,500 per year
(it ran seven days a week, no holidays)---and prior State-prosecuted
lawsuits on the damages caused to State health compensation programs,
envisioned letting the cigarette factories keep running to generate
funds to pay the fines. Bad idea---killing more thousands to partially
compensate the States for killing millions at 450,000 per year. You
have to stop sometime---cut the losses incurred by millions of lost lives.
Our business was stolen at gunpoint by Colonel Claude Raymond, nephew of
Papa Doc Duvalier. Raymond killed one of our two plant mechanics, Sonny
Borge for warning my Ft Lauderdale partner Raymond was going to murder
him ater 11:00 PM, giving him time to take refuge in the Canadian
Embassy---the U.S. Embassy refused him refuge, saying "We didn't invite
When Baby Doc ran like a rabbit we were offered the factory back
again---we declined. By that time Big Tobacco had educated us in the
lethal consequences of smoking. I like money, but not that much.
We were very small, knew tobacco was bad, but did not know it was
lethal---only the big tobacco companies with their huge research budget
knew that---and hid all evidence of their knowledge from the whole world
except Big Tobacco insiders..
The buyout of tobacco farmers continues apace, don't have to worry about
their fate, but unless stopped the tobacco factories will stay in
business on imported tobacco---as they mostly do anyhow, it is so much
cheaper than U.S. leaf tobacco.
Time to kill the cigarette factories and get it over with---try to pay
all the victims who died or got emphysema, cancer on some equitable
basis---individual suits agains mass-murder don't work very well---first
there have been no big payouts, the enormous legal staffs of Big
Tobacco appeal, appeal, appeal, and only a handful of Plaintiff Law
Firms have the deep pockets and gambling instinct to sue Philip Morris,
R.J. Reynolds, et. al. in the first place.
The New York Times
September 14, 2004
U.S. Court Considers a Once-and-for-All Tobacco Lawsuit
*By WILLIAM GLABERSON*
The federal appeals court in New York is considering a case that could
radically reshape the national legal battle over the health effects of
cigarettes and could set the stage for the largest verdict ever against
the tobacco industry.
A three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit is reviewing a novel and sharply controversial decision by a
federal judge in Brooklyn, who ruled two years ago in a class-action
suit that he would subject tobacco companies to a single national trial
that would determine once and for all whether the companies should be
assessed punitive damages for concealing the health hazards of smoking.
The judge, Jack B. Weinstein of United States District Court, said he
would preside over a huge trial that would not evaluate individual
claims for compensation, but would decide only whether the country's
tobacco companies should be assessed punitive damages because of the
harm done to millions of smokers and their survivors.
Saying "the time for bringing a close to tobacco litigation is nigh,"
Judge Weinstein said in court that his trial could bring a resolution of
the tobacco legal wars that have inched along in the courts for decades.
The trial he proposes, he said, "would be the end of punitive damages in
Verdicts assessing millions and sometimes billions of dollars in
punitive damages, which are meant to punish and deter wrongdoing, have
been the focus of furious complaints by industries in recent years and
several critical rulings by the United States Supreme Court.
But lawyers with experience in tobacco cases say a national trial to
determine punitive damages involving the claims of millions of smokers
could invite jurors to hand down a verdict of unprecedented size. In a
case involving claims by smokers in Florida alone, a jury in 2000
awarded $145 billion in punitive damages to the plaintiffs. The award
was overturned by an intermediate appeals court, and the appeal process
Though the Brooklyn case has attracted little public notice, it has
drawn wide attention among corporations nationwide because of the impact
it may have on damage suits against many other industries. Many groups,
including the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of
Manufacturers, have submitted written arguments opposing the trial.
The case has spawned articles and debate among legal experts because of
its central suggestion that in some cases where mass injuries are
involved, the legal system's reliance on individual suits is inadequate.
Judge Weinstein said fairness required that no plaintiff wins a huge
award that bankrupts a company and leaves little for thousands of other
Punitive damages recovered from the companies, Judge Weinstein said in
his ruling, could be distributed to ailing smokers and deceased smokers'
families and used for treatment, research and antismoking activities.
Judge Weinstein's proposal "is a very novel idea that is untested in the
law," said Catherine M. Sharkey, a Columbia University law professor who
is a specialist in punitive-damage issues.
The case began in 1999 as a more traditional class-action suit, filed by
lung cancer victims seeking compensation from tobacco companies. But
after Judge Weinstein suggested in court that the case could be
restructured to deal with tobacco issues in a much broader way, the
plaintiffs' lawyers filed a new suit in 2000, asking for the
once-and-for-all determination of punitive damages.
Under his order, individual smokers and their survivors could still sue
for compensation for lost income or health care costs. But the trial
would foreclose claims for punitive damages by all smokers who received
a diagnosis of any of 16 smoking-related diseases, including cancer and
heart disease, between 1993 and the start of the trial.
The appeals court heard oral arguments last November. In filings to the
appeals court, the tobacco companies labeled the ruling a breathtaking,
arbitrary, baseless analysis that ignored Supreme Court rulings.
Theodore M. Grossman, the lawyer who argued the appeal for the tobacco
industry, said in an interview last week that Judge Weinstein was trying
to undo a centuries-old adversary system of case-by-case justice.
"He is a very bright man," Mr. Grossman said, "who has a very clearly
stated agenda that is inconsistent with what appellate courts and courts
across the country have said is required by the Constitution."
But Samuel Issacharoff, a visiting professor at New York University Law
School who is working with the plaintiffs' lawyers in the tobacco case,
called the judge's approach a bold and creative effort to deal with
issues that have troubled American courts in mass-liability cases for
Defective products can have widespread effects that the legal system has
difficulty handling, said Professor Issacharoff, an expert on
mass-injury cases. Among the most difficult questions for courts, he
said, are those Judge Weinstein is grappling with, like how to calculate
ways of punishing corporate misconduct that has affected millions of
"It's hard to think of a more important issue in civil litigation
today," Professor Issacharoff said.
Whatever the Manhattan appeals court decides, lawyers say, it seems
likely that the United States Supreme Court will be asked to review the
case before any trial begins.
The appeal of Judge Weinstein's decision has exposed alliances often
unseen in large liability battles. The trade group for plaintiffs'
lawyers, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, filed a brief
backing the position of the tobacco companies, as did the American
An association lawyer, Robert S. Peck, said the trial lawyers were
concerned that no smoker could seek punitive damages individually. He
said his group viewed that as an unfair limitation on victims' rights,
and could recall no other case in which the association had sided with
an industry against plaintiffs seeking damages.
Richard A. Daynard, chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project
at Northeastern University, which works to foster lawsuits against the
industry, also signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the
appeals court to reject Judge Weinstein's approach.
Professor Daynard, a harsh critic of the tobacco industry, said in an
interview that one concern with Judge Weinstein's proposal was the
enormous risk to tobacco critics.
Tobacco lawyers are known for fighting cases relentlessly. One case in
Brooklyn, no matter how big, he said, might not end with the gargantuan
punitive-damage award for which critics of the industry have long been
"The problem with it," Professor Daynard said, "is it's putting all the
eggs in terms of possible litigation against the industry in one b
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