Big tobacco conspired against civil justice system, study shows

Charleston Gazette
Thursday, July 27, 2000

A new study quotes secret tobacco industry documents to assert that Big Tobacco conspired with other major industries to create and finance so called grass-roots citizen groups that attack jury awards and other aspects of the civil justice system.

According to the study, West Virginia has played a pivotal role in this national effort. The tobacco industry hosted a 1989 planning conference at a state resort "to establish an agenda for what was informally referred to within the industry as The Tort Reform Project.' " Since that meeting, two such "Astroturf" groups have started in the state, one in southern West Virginia and the other in the Eastern Panhandle, the study said.
The Center for Justice and Democracy and Public Citizen published the study, released Wednesday. The report draws from previously-secret tobacco industry documents filed in lawsuits, among other sources. The study focuses on 27 "Astroturf" groups in 18 states which aim to "influence legislation, the judiciary and jurors" on such issues as "lawsuit abuse" and jury damage awards.
"But their tax filings and funding sources indicate that they actually represent major corporations and industries, seeking to escape liability for the harm they cause consumers," the study said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us