U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Consolidated West Virginia Tobacco Cases

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The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal that sought to stop the consolidation of more than 1,000 lawsuits against tobacco companies in West Virginia.

The cert petition by four tobacco companies asked the court to intervene before March 18, the date that the first phase of the trial begins, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. The first phase will decide liability and punitive damages for all of the cases.

A brief filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce encouraged the court to accept the case. “The reverse bifurcation procedure devised by the trial court contravenes this court’s decisions aimed at ensuring that even unpopular defendants receive due process,” the chamber argued.

The state of West Virginia said consolidation was needed to preserve court resources. “If the more than 1,000 individual cases involved in this action were treated in the traditional course of litigation, the West Virginia court system would need to devote at least 180 judge years to these trials,” its brief said.

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