The Castano Suit: Part One
Could a landmark class action suit have precipitated the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1998? A settlement involving Philip Morris Inc., R. J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson and Lorillard and the attorney generals of 46 states?
Maybe… maybe not. But I like to believe so.
In this day and age of readily available information on just about any subject, it’s hard to imagine that at one point in time smoking cigarettes was not just a cool thing to do; but THE thing to do.
In a 2011 CNN article, in 1965, the US population stood at around 194.3 million people. 56% of all adult smokers consumed 20 cigarettes or more per day. 60 million were under the age of 14, which means 134 million people in the US aged 14 and up smoked a pack of cigarettes or more per day. Maybe we should blame climate change on them.
I’m kidding. Everyone knows the Chinese are the ones to blame for climate change!
According to The Guardian, in the 1950s around half of the population of industrialized nations smoked. That’s in the billions, people! In the UK, up to 80% of adults were hooked on cigarettes. The product was cheap, legal and socially acceptable.
Cigarettes were originally marketed as expensive luxury items for the urban elites. Backed by the rich and famous and those in upper echelon areas of society; smoking was viewed as the cool, sexy, sensual and sophisticated activity to participate in. Once new methods of mass-production and aggressive marketing campaigns were added to the mix, smoking cigarettes was no longer strictly for the social icons of the world, but became a habit enjoyed by the masses.
For years, the tobacco industry seemed to exist inside a fortress of invincibility. It was untouchable. And cigarettes were deemed as the vogue thing to do, period.
But that all changed when a UK scientist by the name of Sir Richard Doll made a link between lung cancer and smoking. Yet, even with the information exposing the harmful effects of cigarettes and the millions of lives claimed by the various types of cancer, cigarettes continued to gain momentum.
Then, in 1994, Diane Castano popped up on the scene, filing what was the largest potential class action suit in history after her husband, Peter Castano, a former Louisiana attorney, died of lung cancer.
Pulled from the archived files of the 5th Circuit Court in the case of CASTANO v. AMERICAN TOBACCO COMPANY:
“The plaintiffs filed this class complaint against the defendant tobacco companies and the Tobacco Institute, Inc., seeking compensation solely for the injury of nicotine addiction. The gravamen of their complaint is the novel and wholly untested theory that the defendants fraudulently failed to inform consumers that nicotine is addictive and manipulated the level of nicotine in cigarettes to sustain their addictive nature. The class complaint alleges nine causes of action: fraud and deceit, negligent misrepresentation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of state consumer protection statutes, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, strict product liability, and redhibition pursuant to the Louisiana Civil Code.”
To be continued…
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