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Supreme Court: Smokers’ consumer suit not preempted by federal law

ussc1In a decision that could have wide-ranging impact, the Supreme Court this morning held that federal law neither expressly or impliedly preempts a lawsuit filed under the Maine Unfair Trade Practices Act by Maine smokers of Marlboro Lights and Cambridge Lights cigarettes. The suit against the tobacco company claims it deceptively used the labels “light” and “low tar” on the products, knowing that they were just as dangerous as other cigarettes.

The decision in Altria Group v. Good means this suit as well as other similar claims seeking billion of dollars in damages from tobacco companies can proceed. It also could spur tobacco companies to undergo massive relabeling of cigarette packages to avoid liability under similar state statutes.

The 5-4 opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter, Stephen Breyer, and Anthony Kennedy, who again found himself in the role of swing voter for the Court’s majority.

More on this story to come today on Lawyers USA’s website.

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