La. Appeal Court Won’t Rehear Decision in Tobacco Case

March 9, 2007

A five-judge state appeal court panel has refused to revisit its Feb. 7 decision to slash a New Orleans jury’s 2004 verdict that required four big tobacco companies to pay $591 million to help Louisiana smokers kick the habit.

Attorneys for the tobacco firms, who sought the rehearing before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, said their next move will be to ask that the Louisiana Supreme Court void the jury award and dismiss the case altogether. The 4th Circuit turned down a rehearing on Mar. 2.

After the large Orleans Parish Civil District Court award three years ago, attorneys for the tobacco companies filed appeals with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, which heard arguments on the case in the spring of 2006.

Last month, the appeal court pared the $591 million award to $279 million and said the remaining money could pay only for traditional stop-smoking aids. The ruling also limited the number of smokers eligible for help in giving up smoking.

In reducing the size of the award, the 4th Circuit judges eliminated a wide array of proposed programs, such as research centers, that they called “speculative, unsubstantiated and unrelated to the actual treatment of nicotine addiction.”

The jury ordered the tobacco companies to contribute to a smoking cessation fund after it decided that cigarette makers had deceived the public with an addictive product and schemed to market cigarettes to children.

Information from: The Times-Picayune,

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