Court Rejects Tobacco Racketeers’ Bid to Escape Corrective Actions
Latest chapter in government’s lawsuit against tobacco companies
Posted by: Editor | Jul 27, 2012
In a victory for public health, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today rejected the tobacco industry’s attempt to escape any corrective actions despite a judgment that they have violated civil racketeering laws and defrauded the American people for decades.
The ruling is the latest chapter in the federal government’s long-running lawsuit against the major tobacco companies, which was filed in 1999. The government charged the tobacco companies had violated civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
After a nine-month trial, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler in 2006 issued a landmark judgment that the major tobacco companies were indeed racketeers who had engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to deceive the American people and target children.
Judge Kessler placed new restrictions on the tobacco companies’ actions and ordered them to make statements correcting their lies through newspaper and television advertising, their web sites and cigarette packaging.
But tobacco companies sought to evade those restrictions, claiming they were no longer needed because of the 2009 federal law granting the FDA authority over tobacco products. Judge Kessler rejected those arguments and the appeals court today agreed, finding that the court-ordered remedies were needed to prevent tobacco companies from breaking the law in the future. They were swayed by the tobacco companies’ long history of evading restrictions on their conduct.
Today’s ruling clears the way for Judge Kessler to move forward in implementing the remedies she ordered in 2006. It is also an important step to hold the tobacco industry accountable for decades of deadly deception.