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Argument: Industry-Perpetrated Fraud

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Search Results Results 1-10 of 125

United States v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. [United States] [February 08, 2016]

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

As a means of preventing future RICO violations, the district court ordered the tobacco companies to issue corrective statements on five topics in which they had misled the public, including the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. The companies challenged the language of the corrective statements ordered by the court. A previous decision upheld all of the corrective statements with the exception of the introductory sentence. In this decision, the district court found that a revised introductory statement submitted by the government is acceptable because it removes any reference to tobacco companies’ prior deceptive conduct. The judge castigated the tobacco companies for attempting to rewrite the corrective statements entirely, calling it a “ridiculous – a waste of precious time, energy, and money for all concerned – and a loss of information for the public.” The court also refused to change any of the terms in the previously agreed upon consent order. 

In re NJOY, Inc. Consumer Class Action Litigation [United States] [February 02, 2016]

A court ruled that a lawsuit against e-cigarette maker NJOY could not proceed as a class action. Potential class members had asserted that NJOY: (1) conducted misleading advertising indicating that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes; and (2) omitted information on its packaging about product ingredients and the risks of such ingredients. The court affirmed an earlier ruling prohibiting the lawsuit from proceeding as a class action, saying that class members failed to demonstrate how damages can be proven for the entire class. Specifically, the court said that the class was not able to show how it could calculate the difference between the price paid by consumers of NJOY and the true market price that reflects the impact of the unfair or fraudulent business practices. Although the ruling means that the case may not proceed as a class action, individuals may sue NJOY independently.  

Price v. Philip Morris, Inc. [United States] [November 04, 2015]

A group of smokers filed a class action against Philip Morris alleging that the company’s marketing of “light” and “lowered tar and nicotine” cigarettes violated certain fraud statutes. The trial court denied the company’s attempt to dismiss the case and awarded the smokers $10.1 billion. After numerous appeals, an Illinois court reinstated the case in 2014. In this decision, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the appeals court’s decision (based on procedural reasons) and dismissed the class action, effectively ending the case.  

Quebec Class Action [Canada] [May 27, 2015]

Two class action lawsuits were filed in Canada in 1998 against major tobacco companies; the cases were later combined. One class (Blais) involved Quebec residents with lung cancer, throat cancer, or emphysema. The other class (Letourneau) involved Quebec residents addicted to nicotine. After a lengthy trial, the court found that the tobacco companies caused injury, failed to inform customers of the risks and dangers of its products, and violated Quebec law.

In the Blais case, the court awarded moral damages (e.g., for pain and suffering) of $15.5 billion, to be paid jointly by the three tobacco companies. In the Letourneau case, although the court found that the tobacco companies were at fault, it did not award moral damages because there was not enough evidence to determine the total amount of the class members’ claims. In both cases the court awarded punitive damages, which it calculated based on one year of before-tax profits for each tobacco company. In Blais, the court reduced this award to the symbolic amount of $30,000 for each defendant, representing one dollar for each death the tobacco industry causes in Canada each year. In Letourneau, the court awarded punitive damages of $131 million. The tobacco companies must make an initial deposit on the judgment of $1 billion while the appeal is pending.

United States v. Philip Morris USA [United States] [May 22, 2015]

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

As a means of preventing future RICO violations, the district court ordered the tobacco companies to issue corrective statements on five topics in which they had misled the public, including the adverse health effects of smoking and the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine. The companies challenged the language and form of the corrective statements. In this decision, the Court of Appeals found that the tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the wording of the corrective statements. However, the court found that an introduction to the corrective statements (explaining that a federal court has ruled that tobacco companies deliberately deceived the American public) exceeded the scope of scope of remedies allowed under RICO. Finally, the court found that tobacco companies had waived their right to challenge the distribution of corrective statements via company websites, cigarette packages, and newspaper and television ads.

Philip Morris USA v. Russo [United States] [April 02, 2015]

This lawsuit was filed by an individual alleging that smoking caused her to develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The lawsuit arises from a 1994 class-action lawsuit on behalf of Florida smokers against major tobacco companies (Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc.). In this decision, the court affirmed an earlier ruling allowing the plaintiff’s fraud claims to continue. The court found that the fraud claims were filed within the appropriate amount of time because the earlier class action lawsuit in Engle had proven that the major tobacco companies fraudulently concealed information about the health risks of smoking. 

Hess v. Philip Morris USA [United States] [April 02, 2015]

This lawsuit was filed by the family of an individual who died from a smoking-related illness; it arises from a 1994 class-action lawsuit on behalf of Florida smokers against major tobacco companies (Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc.). In this decision, the court allowed the plaintiff’s fraud claim against Philip Morris to continue. The court found that the earlier class action lawsuit in Engle had proven that the major tobacco companies fraudulently concealed information about the health risks of smoking within the time frame necessary for determining the fraud claim. The court found that it was not necessary to also show that the smoker relied on those fraudulent claims during the relevant period for such claims to move forward.  

Smith v. Philip Morris Companies [United States] [July 18, 2014]

A class action lawsuit against major tobacco companies argued that the companies fixed prices following “Marlboro Friday,” a day in 1993 in which a Philip Morris retail promotion lowered the price of Marlboros by approximately 20 percent. The class action represented Kansas purchasers of cigarettes who alleged that the tobacco companies conspired to fix the wholesale price of cigarettes in violation of state law. The court ruled that the class had failed to provide evidence proving price fixing and affirmed an earlier judgment in favor of the tobacco companies. In particular, the court found that the class failed to provide evidence that the tobacco companies were actively colluding with each other and not acting independently in changing prices.

United States v. Philip Morris USA [United States] [June 02, 2014]

In 1999, the United States filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the major cigarette manufacturers and related trade organizations alleging that defendants, while acting as an enterprise, fraudulently misled American consumers for decades about the risks and dangers of cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke in violation of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). In 2006, the court found that defendants violated RICO and that there was a reasonable likelihood that defendants would continue to violate RICO in the future. On appeal, the district court’s findings were upheld, in part, vacated, in part, and remanded, in part, to the district court. After the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from both sides in the case in June 2010, the district court began to implement the 2006 final order.

In this Order, the District Court approved a revised proposal by the parties on how the corrective statements would be displayed in four different media (television, websites, newspapers, and cigarette packaging).

Price v. Philip Morris, Inc. [United States] [April 29, 2014]

An Illinois court revived a class action lawsuit alleging that tobacco company advertising using the terms “light” and “low tar” constituted fraud. A trial court had awarded the class $10.1 billion in damages but an appeals court overturned the verdict, ruling that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had authorized the use of the terms “light” and “low tar” in tobacco advertising, subject to certain limitations. However, in a separate (and later) lawsuit, the FTC filed a “friend of the court” brief stating that it never intended to authorize the use of the terms “light” and “low tar.” In this case, the court found that the appeals court would have ruled differently if the plaintiffs had been able to enter evidence of the FTC’s position, which became available after trial. Additionally, the court ruled that the trial court had exceeded the scope of its review in a ruling barring the case on the question of damages. The court reinstated the case with the original verdict intact, which is likely to be appealed by tobacco companies. 

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