Seeking to Hold Big Tobacco Accountable
A novel lawsuit is winding its way through the courts in St. Louis. Thirty Missouri hospitals are pursuing claims against Altria (the parent company of Phillip Morris) and other tobacco manufacturers for the costs of medical care provided to patients with tobacco-induced diseases who were uninsured or unable to pay for their treatment. The lawsuit has been pending for more than a decade and has had many twists and turns along the way. Initially, the plaintiff hospitals sought more than $8 billion in damages for medical expenses incurred as far back as 1954. The judge overseeing the case pared the claims down to include only costs incurred since 1993, which are still substantial. It is anticipated that the case could go to trial as early as January of 2010.