Tobacco companies will now have to pay $270 million for the implementation of a smoking cessation program after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated a Louisiana court order that was unilaterally blocked by Justice Scalia last September. The Court also denied the tobacco companies’ appeal.
Louisiana smokers first filed a class action lawsuit against tobacco companies in 1996. A jury ruled in favor of the class, and a Louisiana court ordered tobacco companies to make multi-million dollar payments toward programs to help smokers quit smoking.
Although Supreme Court justices have the power to block another court’s order, the justices rarely use this power. In blocking the order, Justice Scalia cited his concern for the rising abuse of class action lawsuits in state courts. The Court recently addressed this same concern in Dukes v. Wal-Mart, rejecting a class of 1.5 million female Wal-Mart workers alleging sex discrimination.
The Court’s decision reflects the Court’s continued approval of class action suits that share common claims and injuries. For questions, contact Broussard, David & Moroux at 1-888-337-2323 (toll free) or 337-233-2323 (local).