Posts Tagged ‘calss actions’

It may be hard to believe but it wasn’t that long ago when doctors would tell you smoking tobacco was perfectly healthy. In fact your doctor would probably offer you one, reassuring you that it is relaxing and no bad will come of it. How very wrong they were!

In 1950 two doctors working with the British Medical Research Council, Professor Austin Bradford Hill and Dr Richard Doll, published a paper which shook the scientific community to its core. The findings, which are today undisputed, demonstrated an undeniable association between tobacco and cancer.

Despite this, when the Minister of Health declared that the UK government fully acknowledged these facts, he was smoking a cigarette whilst making the announcement.

It would appear that Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard have the same bold attitude as the British Minister of Health in 1957. They are fully aware of the damage their product does but will push the law to the limits in order to make sales and profit.

Ferrari barcodeA good example of pushing the rules to the limit can be found with Marlboro sponsoring the Ferrari F1 team. Doctors have urged governments to launch enquiries into ‘subliminal’ tobacco advertising as they believe the red, white and black bar code on Ferrari F1 cars and overalls is designed to remind viewers of Marlboro branding.

Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard planned class action lawsuit is because in the last six months New York has required retailers to display posters with stomach-churning photos that show the effects of prolonged tobacco use. In addition there are signs with the warning we are familiar with such as “smoking causes lung cancer”.

No smoking!The tobacco manufacturers argue that the images and signs are doing the federal government’s job of regulating tobacco packaging. They further argue that this is a violation of the First Amendment, because it forces store owners to display signs even if they disagree with their message. Adding more weight to the class actions, The New York State Association of Convenience Stores, a non-profit trade organisation made up of 250 companies joined the suit.

The lawsuit goes on to argue that these signs crowd out other advertising which might otherwise dominate the point of sale in smaller establishments. Their lawyers believe that New York doesn’t have the right to force other people to adopt its views, believing it to be the biggest nanny state in the States.

Come 2012 class action lawyers in America will be very busy if this is anything to go by because federal standards will force tobacco companies to cover at least 50% of the package thanks to President Obama’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.


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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Settlements of U.S. class action securities lawsuits rose 39 percent in 2009, and the amounts could rise further as cases stemming from the financial crisis work their way through the courts.

There were 103 settlements totalling $3.83 billion last year, up from 97 settlements totalling $2.75 billion in 2008, according to a study set for release on Wednesday by Stanford Law School and Cornerstone Research.

Two settlements accounted for 39 percent of last year’s total: $925.5 million paid by UnitedHealth Group Inc (UNH.N) over the backdating of stock options, and $586 million to end eight years of litigation against hundreds of defendants over initial public offerings.

The median accord was unchanged from 2008, at $8 million.

Joseph Grundfest, director of Stanford Law School’s Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, said recoveries tended to be higher when large public pension funds led lawsuits, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission pursued related civil charges, or accounting violations were alleged.

Institutional investors were lead plaintiffs on 65 percent of the settlements, the highest percentage since the 1995 federal reform of class-action litigation, including who could serve as lead plaintiffs.

Last year’s settlements were well below record $18.3 billion in 2006, including $7.2 billion over Enron Corp.

Other busy years were 2005, when the $10.02 billion of settlements included $6.2 billion related to WorldCom Inc, and 2007, when the $7.36 billion of settlements included $3.2 billion for Tyco International Ltd.

Experts have said settlement totals should rise as cases tied to the 2008 stock market decline and credit crisis are addressed. They said such cases may fare better when plaintiffs show companies intended to defraud or deceive them, not simply that they guessed wrong about the economy or markets.

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