Smokin' Obama Sues Tobacco Industry for $330 Billion!
The Obama Administration has asked the US Supreme Court to allow the government to seek close to $US300 billion ($330 billion) from the tobacco industry for half a century of deception that 'has cost the lives and damaged the health of untold millions of Americans'. (What?... The government approved the toxins added to the tobacco and papers so why is OBAMA suing?... Shouldn't he be suing over GMOs and toxins added to our food and water?... ~ S.I.A.)
Both sides in a landmark, decade-long legal fight over smoking took their case to the Supreme Court on Friday.
The administration and public health groups want the court to throw out rulings that bar the government from collecting $US280 billion of past tobacco profits, as well as $US14 billion for a campaign to curb smoking.
Tobacco companies want the Supreme Court to wipe away court rulings that the industry illegally concealed the dangers of cigarette smoking. If they succeed, the attack on their profits would also be halted.
Friday's filings with the Supreme Court mark the latest phase in a lawsuit that began during Bill Clinton's presidency.
Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest tobacco maker, its parent company, Altria Group, and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco filed separate but related appeals.
These appeals take issue with a federal judge's 1600-page opinion and an appeals court ruling that found the industry engaged in racketeering and fraud over several decades. Appeals from other tobacco companies were also expected.
In 2006 US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the companies engaged in a scheme to defraud the public by falsely denying the adverse health effects of smoking, concealing evidence that nicotine was addictive and lying about their manipulation of nicotine in cigarettes to create addiction.
A federal appeals court in Washington upheld the findings.
However, the courts have said the government is not entitled to collect $US280 billion in past profits or $US14 billion for a national campaign to curb smoking.
The companies argue that the government improperly used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations law, or RICO law. It is often used against the Mafia and other criminal groups.
They also say the courts' decision to brand their statements about smoking as fraudulent unfairly denied them their first amendment rights to engage in the public-health debate about smoking.
The Administration said the money it sought from the industry was commensurate with the harm it has caused.
''For the last half-century those defendants have engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity and a conspiracy to engage in racketeering that has cost the lives and damaged the health of untold millions of Americans,'' Solicitor-General Elena Kagan wrote.
The other tobacco company defendants are British American Tobacco Investments and Lorillard Tobacco.
Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard account for nearly 90 per cent of US retail cigarette sales. A former US subsidiary of British American Tobacco, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, merged with R.J. Reynolds six years ago.
Mark Sherman - February 21, 2010 - source SydneyMorningHerald.au