Ruling May Hinder Smokers' Class Action Suit

May 1, 1995

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.

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

The judges ruled that since the 50 states have different lawson negligence, a class action trial that would require adoptionof a single legal standard on negligence is disallowed. The rulingreversed a lower court decision allowing the suit by some 10,000hemophiliacs or their surviving families against drug manufacturerswho, they say, knowingly distributed blood clotting factor contaminatedwith HIV.

The smokers' class action suit--the Castano case--names four plaintiffsintended to represent all US smokers, former smokers, and theirsurviving families. The seven tobacco companies named in the suithave appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court to disallow the classaction, which was permitted in a February ruling by a FederalDistrict judge.