DOJ Racketeering Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies Nears End
The Department of Justice and tobacco companies on Monday released individual "proposed findings of fact" intended to help U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler analyze testimony and documents in DOJ's case against several large U.S. tobacco companies, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal reports (Wells, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 8/16). The lawsuit alleges that Lorillard Tobacco; the Liggett Group; Philip Morris; and Brown & Williamson and R.J. Reynolds, which merged to form Reynolds American, misled consumers about the health risks of smoking and directed multibillion-dollar promotional campaigns at children in violation of federal racketeering laws (California Healthline, 7/19).
The trial began in September 2004 and ended in June. DOJ is seeking $10 billion for a smoking-cessation program and another $4 billion for the American Legacy Foundation for anti-smoking advertising. In its 2,400-page legal filing, DOJ alleged the tobacco industry had engaged in a "massive 50-year scheme to defraud the American public." It said, "Evidence before the court demonstrates that defendants' public statements denying that smoking causes adverse health effects were knowingly false, deceptive, misleading or otherwise fraudulent when made." DOJ said the filing does not change its requested remedies in the case.
According to Dow Jones/Journal, the tobacco industry also filed a document of findings with the court. In it, the companies said DOJ failed to prove the basic elements of the case under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. "In the end, the government has been left with the tired repetition of innuendos drawn from the same company documents that have been featured in the press and the courts for the better part of a decade," the companies said in the filing (Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, 8/16).