California Supreme Court Allows Suit Against Tobacco Industry

May 20, 2009

The California Supreme Court has revived a class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry alleging its advertisements misled consumers into believing some cigarettes were less harmful than others.

The 4-3 decision reverses two lower court rulings that barred the consumer lawsuit because of the 2004 passage of Proposition 64. The voter-approved initiative says only consumers claiming they lost money or property can file such class actions.

In its ruling, the high court says the proposition was intended to bar frivolous lawsuits, not to stop those seeking legitimate consumer protections. It ordered a trial court judge to reconsider the case.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Carlos Moreno, among the candidates to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter.

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