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Great Expectorations / Suit filed in Miami claims makers of chewing tobacco conceal tests that demonstrate health dangers 

Jump to full article: Law.com, 2002-11-14
Author: Matthew Haggman / Miami Daily Business Review


Three South Florida attorneys have opened a new front in the legal wars against the nation's tobacco industry.

Adopting many of the same legal arguments successfully used in previous lawsuits against cigarette makers, they filed a proposed class action lawsuit Tuesday in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the makers of Skoal, Copenhagen and other smokeless tobacco products. According to observers, the case is the first such proposed class action anywhere against the makers of smokeless products.

The plaintiffs' bar has had little success against smokeless tobacco companies. Indeed, the only case ever to go trial resulted in a defense verdict.

The suit, which names as defendants five smokeless tobacco companies and an industry research group, was filed on behalf of six plaintiffs and all other Florida residents who have suffered harm as a result of putting a dip of chewing tobacco between their lip and gum. . .

The companies being sued are UST Inc. of Greenwich, Conn.; Conwood Co. of Memphis, Tenn.; the Pinkerton Tobacco Co. in Richmond, Va.; Swisher International of Jacksonville, Fla.; Swedish Match North America of Richmond, Va. and a research organization called the Smokeless Tobacco Council. . .

"This is more than a lawsuit, it is a cause for us," said David Hagen, a partner at Hagen & Patterson in Miami who is also a regular user of chewing tobacco although not sick. "Smokeless tobacco is addictive, has serious health risks and is not a safe alternative to smoking. Yet, these companies pretend there are no risks."

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