Trials & Litigation

Tobacco Rulings Conflict

Posted Aug 8, 2007 5:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A New York judge has allowed a lawsuit seeking damages for defects in the design of cigarettes, setting up a conflict that may be destined to reach the state state’s highest court.

Judge Charles Ramos refused to dismiss a case filed against Philip Morris and other tobacco companies, the New York Law Journal reports. He said the plaintiffs had raised issues of fact about whether the defendants could have designed safer cigarettes and that their claim for punitive damages was not barred by the 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement.

His ruling conflicts with a decision by U.S. District Judge Charles Brieant of New York. He dismissed a tobacco suit one week ago, saying the global settlement barred its claims.

Jones Day partner Stephen Kaczynski said his tobacco company client was considering whether to appeal Ramos’ decision.

"Two respected, learned judges have come to different conclusions," he told the legal newspaper. "Ultimately, [New York's] Court of Appeals will have to consider these issues."

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