The goal was “to bring this industry to its knees.”
That’s what Texas Attorney General Dan Morales said on March 28, 1996, as he announced filing the first-ever federal civil racketeering lawsuit against the major tobacco companies.
“The purpose of this lawsuit is to change how this industry does business,” said Morales, who was the seventh state attorney general to sue the cigarette makers for smoking-related health care costs. “We are going to stop them from selling their deadly product to minors. We are going to force them to manufacture a safer product.”
In a little more than a year, 30 more states had filed similar lawsuits. The monetary claims topped $100 billion. Hundreds of lawyers were employed by both sides.