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Tobacco Litigation in California is Back in Business

The California Supreme Court just altered its interpretation of the state's statute of limitation, allowing perhaps thousands of tobacco related suits that otherwise would have been rejected. As Law.com reports, the Sacramento Supremes rejected the industry's claim that the statute starts to run when smokers discover they're addicted to cigarettes -- a rationale based on a previous 9th Circuit decision. Instead, the court essentially found that California's two-year statute of limitations begins when the smoker is diagnosed with a disease caused by the cigarettes.

In a case referred to the court by a 9th Circuit panel, the justices unanimously ruled that two emphysema sufferers could go forward with their lawsuits against the tobacco industry.

The industry had argued that they should have sued years ago, when they first learned they were addicted, based on Soliman v. Philip Morris, 311 F.3d 966 (9th Cir. 2002). But no "appreciable physical harm" occurred until plaintiffs were aware of their ailment, ruled the court. Grisham v. Philip Morris, 07 C.D.O.S. 1653.

"Tobacco litigation in California is back in business," exulted Richard Daynard of the Tobacco Products Liability Project.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.