A federal judge certified a class of "tens of millions" of "light cigarette" smokers today, according to the New York Times. They say that Phillip Morris and other tobacco companies marketed these cigarettes as a lower health risk, despite well documented awareness that the risks, in fact, were about the same. News of the lawsuit, which could ultimately cost the tobacco giants in the neighborhood of $200 billion, sent tobacco stock prices down 5%. However, a JPMorgan stock analyst told the Times that he expects the Second Circuit to overturn the class certification, citing "an overall litigation environment that is far better " -- for business, of course -- "than in the past." (We aren't the only ones who recognize the detrimental impact that federal judges appointed by W and his Republican predecessors are having on consumer protections.)
This won't be the only case this year where big tobacco is counting on the courts to treat it "far better" than those allegedly harmed by their enterprise. There is a significant tobacco case involving the propriety of large punitive damages awards currently pending before the Supreme Court. Stay tuned to Full Court Press for analysis.