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Ruling May Hinder Smokers' Class Action Suit

Ruling May Hinder Smokers' Class Action Suit

CHICAGO--A ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit may put a damper on the class action suit filed in a federal court in Louisiana against tobacco manufacturers.

The judges ruled that since the 50 states have different laws on negligence, a class action trial that would require adoption of a single legal standard on negligence is disallowed. The ruling reversed a lower court decision allowing the suit by some 10,000 hemophiliacs or their surviving families against drug manufacturers who, they say, knowingly distributed blood clotting factor contaminated with HIV.

The smokers' class action suit--the Castano case--names four plaintiffs intended to represent all US smokers, former smokers, and their surviving families. The seven tobacco companies named in the suit have appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court to disallow the class action, which was permitted in a February ruling by a Federal District judge.

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