US Supreme Court Rules Tobacco Case Cannot Be Removed from State to Federal Court
WASHINGTON, DC -- June 15, 2007 -- A recent US Supreme Court ruling prohibited Philip Morris from removing a class action tobacco lawsuit from an Arkansas court to a more business-friendly federal court. The case, Watson v. Philip Morris, involved charges that the company manipulated nicotine levels and misled consumers about the safety of so-called "light" cigarettes.
Philip Morris had argued that the case could be moved to federal court because cigarette advertising is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. However, the High Court said that a lawsuit should not be removed from state court merely because a federal agency directs and monitors a company's activities.
Over 20 class action suits about "light" cigarettes have been filed in state courts around the country, including one that has been certified by the Massachusetts Supreme Court (Press Release, Tobacco Products Liability Project, June 11, 2007). Consumer advocates and anti-tobacco groups view the ruling as an impressive victory for the public, allowing these cases to go forward.
Tobacco Information Resources
The full text of Watson v. Philip Morris may be found on the US Supreme Court web site. The Public Citizen web site has posted an "amici curiae" or "friends of the court" brief in support of the plaintiffs and against the position taken by Philip Morris.
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