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Supreme Court OKs Cigarette Suits

A split-down-the-middle Supreme Court today issued a ruling giving the green light to lawsuits over the labeling of light cigarettes. In Altria Group v. Good, the court said that federal law does not preempt smokers from bringing lawsuits under Maine law alleging deceptive marketing of light cigarettes as healthier. Justice Stevens wrote the opinion, joined by Justices Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer. Justice Thomas wrote a dissent, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia and Alito.

We conclude ... that the Labeling Act does not pre-empt state-law claims like respondents’ that are predicated on the duty not to deceive. We also hold that the FTC’s various decisions with respect to statements of tar and nicotine content do not impliedly pre-empt respondents’ claim. Respondents still must prove that petitioners’ use of “light” and “lowered tar” descriptors in fact violated the state deceptive practices statute, but neither the Labeling Act’s pre-emption provision nor the FTC’s actions in this field prevent a jury from considering that claim.

More coverage from Legal Times, Bloomberg News and SCOTUSblog.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 15, 2008 at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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