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Lawsuits Timeline

1950

American scientists Ernst L. Wyndner and Evarts A. Graham publish a report that 96.5 percent of lung-cancer patients are moderate to heavy smoker.

1952

Liggett publicizes a study by Arthur D. Little showing that smoking Chesterfields has no adverse effect on the throat.

1953

A landmark study by Ernst Wyndner shows that painting cigarette tar on the backs of mice creates tumors.

1954

Eva Cooper sues R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for the death of her husband from lung cancer. Cooper loses the case.

1954

The Tobacco Industry Research Committee (later becomes Council on Tobacco Research) issues a “Frank Statement” to the public. It’s a nationwide two-page ad that states cigarette makers don’t believe their products are injurious to a person’s health.

1963

Brown & Williamson general counsel Addison Yeaman notes in a memo, “Nicotine is addictive. We are, then, in the business of selling nicotine, an addictive drug.”

1964

U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry issues the first surgeon general report citing health risks associated with smoking.

1965

U.S. Congress passes the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, requiring a surgeon general’s warning on cigarette packs.

1971

All broadcast advertising for cigarettes is banned.

1972

Philip Morris’s Marlboro becomes the best-selling brand in the world.

1982

U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop finds that secondhand smoke may cause lung cancer.

1983

Rose Cipollone, a smoker, sues the tobacco industry. She dies in 1984 and her family takes up the lawsuit.

1985

Melvin Belli, who in Louisiana in 1958 had argued the first tobacco liability case to reach a jury, filed a claim of $100 million on behalf of Mark Galbraith, a three-pack-a-day smoker who had died at sixty-nine, against R.J. Reynolds in Santa Barbara, CA. It was the first such action to go before a jury in fifteen years, but Belli lost, holding that neither causation nor addiction had been proven.

1986

In May, Nathan Horton, a fifty-year-old African American smoker, files suit in Holmes County, Miss., for $17 million in damages from American Tobacco, on the use of fertilizers and pesticides in growing tobacco products in excess of government approved limits. His attorney, Don Barrett, brings the suit before a jury in January 1988, but the judge declares a mistrial because of a hung jury.

1988

Michael Moore is elected Attorney General of Mississippi.

1988

Merrell Williams is hired by Wyatt, Tarrant and Combs in Louisville to analyze and sort Brown & Williamson internal documents.

1988

Jackie Thompson first gets sick from tobacco related illness.

1988

Judge Lee Sarokin rules that he has found evidence of tobacco industry conspiracy in the Cipollone case; Liggett is ordered to pay Cipollone $400,000 in compensatory damages.

1989

Jeffrey Wigand starts work for Brown & Williamson as Vice President of Scientific Research.

1990

Don Barrett, the Mississippi attorney representing smoker Nathan Horton, wins the case against the industry during a new trial in Oxford, Miss. His client is awarded no damages in the case.Smoking is banned on U.S. passenger flights of less than six hours’ duration.

1992

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 1965 warning labels on cigarette packs does not shield companies from lawsuits.

1992

Wayne McLaren, who modeled as the “Marlboro Man,” dies of lung cancer.

1992

Merrell Williams is laid off from law firm of Brown & Williamson.

1992

Matthew Fishbein and other US Attorneys from the Eastern District of New York open a federal probe into criminal wrongdoing by the tobacco industry, focusing on Judge Sarokin’s opinion in the Haines case. Sarokin called the industry the “king of concealment.”

March 1993

See Below

May 1993

Mike Lewis visits Jackie Thompson in the Memphis hospital and begins discussing a suit against the tobacco industry on her behalf. In the elevator after the visit, Mike Lewis comes up with the idea of suing the tobacco industry on behalf of the state to recover costs from treating smokers.

Sept 1993

Jeffrey Wigand is sued for libel by Brown & Williamson for saying malicious things about the company president to another employee – they threatened suspended pay and health insurance.In the summer of 1993, the law firm Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs filed a civil suit accusing Merrell Williams of copying and removing confidential Brown & Williamson documents from the firm. The suit was filed after his lawyer had returned a box of these documents to the law firm. In a letter that accompanied the box, Williams’ attorney alleged that Williams had suffered smoking related illnesses, a condition made worse by seeing the information in the documents, and he sought a settlement of Williams’ claims.

Nov 1993

Jeffrey Wigand and Brown & Williamson sign a confidentiality agreement.

Feb 1994

FDA Commissioner David Kessler announces plans to consider regulation of tobacco as a drug, stating that tobacco manufacturers use nicotine to satisfy addiction.

2/28/94

ABC’s “Day One” airs a report by producer Walt Bogdanich which claims that cigarette companies “spike” levels of nicotine.

Mar 1994

A national class action suit is filed on behalf of smokers, known as the Castano suit, after Peter Castano, a former Louisiana attorney who died of lung cancer.

3/7/94

Second “Day One” Segment airs, listing secret additives in cigarettes.

3/24/94

Philip Morris announces lawsuit against ABC in the circuit court for the city of Richmond, VA.

3/25/94

FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler testifies about tobacco and nicotine in Congressional hearings.

4/14/94

Seven leading tobacco company executives testify during Waxman’s Congressional hearings that they believe “Nicotine is not addictive.”

May 1994

Richard Scruggs hand carries Brown & Williamson internal documents to Waxman in Washington.

5/7/94

New York Times publishes Brown & Williamson internal documents, saying they were received by a government official.

5/12/94

Stan Glantz receives Brown & Williamson documents from “Mr. Butts.”

5/18/94

Jeffrey Wigand (using the code name “Research”) pays his first visit to Dr. Kessler’s office at the FDA.

5/23/94

Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore announces the filing of a lawsuit against the tobacco industry seeking to recoup the $940 million the state spent treating sick smokers.

June 1994

Geoffrey Bible is named President and CEO of Philip Morris

6/21/94

Dr. David Kessler testifies in Congressional hearings about the investigation into whether tobacco and niotine should be regulated by the FDA.

July 1994

Justice Dept opens criminal investigation into possible perjury by top tobacco company executives in their testimony before the Congress during the Waxman hearings.

8/17/94

Minnesota Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

9/20/94

Attorney General of West Virginia files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

12/94

Florida Legislature passes a law making it much easier to sue the tobacco industry for Medicaid costs. The tobacco industry fights the passage of the law, but looses.

12/14/94

Congressman Marty Meehan sends an 111-page prosecution memo to the Justice Department, requesting that Attorney General Janet Reno open a formal criminal investigation against the tobacco industry and several of their law firms and industry organizations.

2/14/95

Brown & Williamson sues UCSF and Stanton Glantz demanding return of internal industry documents.

2/21/95

Attorney General Bob Butterworth of Florida files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco companies.

7/1/95

Stanton Glantz posts the Brown & Williamson documents on the Internet.

8/16/95

ABC agrees to settle their lawsuit with a prime-time apology and $15 million to cover Philip Morris legal fees. Separate $200,000 settlement with RJR.

Oct 1995

Steven Goldstone is named CEO of RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., after having served as President and General Counsel.

11/5/95

New York Times story appears on CBS pulling full Wigand story for fear of tortious interference lawsuit.

11/12/95

“60 Minutes” airs cut tobacco piece without the full Wigand Interview. Several days later the Westinghouse/CBS merger is approved by CBS shareholders.

11/21/95

Brown & Williamson lead lawyer, Gary Moresrow, announces that they are suing Wigand for theft, fraud and breach of contract. Judge in Kentucky issues restraining order on Wigand, stopping him from discussing confidential documents.

11/27/95

Kentucky judge clarifys restraining order, saying Wigand is bound by his confidentiality agreement not to testify in any case without first cooperating with the tobacco industry lawyers.

11/28/95

Mississippi judge rules that State Attorney’s can question Wigand despite restraining order made by Judge in Kentucky.

11/29/95

Jeffrey Wigand is deposed in Pascagoula in state of Mississippi’s Medicaid lawsuit against the Tobacco Industry.

Dec 1995

Wigand is also questioned by US Justice Dept officials (Grand Jury Testimony) in the criminal investigation of the Tobacco Industry.

12/19/95

Massachusetts files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

1/26/96

Wall Street Journal runs piece including excerpts of Wigand’s leaked deposition and places entire deposition on the Internet.

2/4/96

CBS runs full Wigand Interview.

3/96

The Liggett Group settles with five states and 67 law firms suing the industry – the first such agreement in 40 years of litigation.

3/96

Steven Goldstone, RJR Nabisco CEO says the industry would consider settlement.

3/13/96

Louisiana files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

3/28/96

Texas files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

4/11/96

New Jersey announces that they will file a Medicaid suit against the tobacco indsutry. Actually file suit on 9/10/96.

5/96

Federal appeals court dismisses the Castano national class-action lawsuit. Lawyers in the Castano group begin filing class-action lawsuits in individual states.

5/1/96

Maryland files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/5/96

Washington files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

7/18/96

Connecticut files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

8/96

A Jacksonville, FL, jury awards $750,000 to Grady Carter, who had sued Brown & Williamson. One juror says the released Brown & Williamson documents had an effect on the decision. Philip Morris’s stock loses $12 billion in value within an hour.

8/20/96

Kansas files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

8/21/96

Michigan files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

8/22/96

Oklahoma files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

8/23/96

President Clinton announces that the FDA will regulate Nicotine as a drug.

9/10/96

New Jersey files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

9/30/96

Utah files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

10/96

B.A.T. Industries CEO Martin Broughton says a settlement of tobacco lawsuits would be “common sense.”

10/17/96

Alabama files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

11/12/96

Illinois files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

11/27/96

Iowa files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

12/96

RJR hires North Carolina lawyer Phil Carlton to lobby the White House and try to meet with Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore.

1/27/97

New York files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

1/31/97

Hawaii files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

2/97

Phil Carlton meets with White House deputy counsel Bruce Lindsey.The tobacco industry argues in U.S. district court in Greensboro, NC, that the FDA does not have the power to regulate tobacco.

2/5/97

Wisconsin files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

2/19/97

Indiana files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

3/97

The Mississippi Supreme Court rules that the state’s lawsuit can proceed to trial.Liggett CEO Bennett LeBow settles with more than 20 states, and agrees to release internal industry documents.

3/18/97

Joe Rice, an attorney in Ron Motley’s law firm, meets for the first time in Charlotte, NC, with tobacco company attorneys to discuss a settlement of all lawsuits facing the industry, the first time a major tobacco company representative sits across the table from an antitobacco attorney, apart from litigation.

3/31/97

Mike Moore, Dick Scruggs, Matt Myers, and John Coale meet with Phil Carlton.

4/3/97

Phillip Morris CEO Geoffrey Bible, RJR Nabisco’s CEO Steven Goldstone, and their attorneys meet in Crystal City, VA, with state attorneys general to discuss a national settlement.

4/14/97

Alaska files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

4/22/97

Pennsylvania files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

4/25/97

U.S. District Judge William Osteen in Greensboro, NC, rules that the FDA has the authority to regulate nicotine as a drug. The tobacco industry immediately appeals the ruling.

5/5/97

RJR wins a lawsuit in Jacksonville, FL, filed by a smoker who died and blamed the cigarette maker for not adequately warning her of the dangers of smoking.

5/5/97

Montana files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.Arkansas files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/8/97

Ohio files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/9/97

South Carolina files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/10/97

Missouri files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/21/97

Nevada files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/27/97

New Mexico files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

5/28/97

Scruggs and Moore meet with the leaders of the Public Health community in Chicago to discuss the potential deal.

5/29/97

Vermont files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/4/97

New Hampshire files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/5/97

Colorado files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/10/97

Oregon files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/97

Idaho files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/12/97

California files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/16/97

Puerto Rico files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/18/97

Maine files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/18/97

Rhode Island files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

6/20/97

The tobacco companies and state attorneys general announce a landmark $368.5 billion settlement agreement.

July 1997

Congress includes a $50 billion tobacco-tax credit in a new tax bill. New taxes paid by smokers will save the industry billions of dollars by reducing the amount of money companies would owe according to the settlement.

7/15/97

The State of Mississippi settles its Medicaid case with the tobacco industry for $3.4 billion dollars.

8/25/97

Florida settles. Tobacco companies agree to pay $11.3 billion.

8/29/97

Georgia files a Medicaid suit against the tobacco industry.

9/11/97

Senate votes to repeal the $50 billion tax break for the tobacco industry that was slipped into the tax cut legislation just before it was passed in July.

9/17/97

Clinton announces his position on the upcoming tobacco legislation in Congress.

10/13/97

Tobacco companies settle first secondhand smoke class-action in the Florida Broin case brought by flight attendants.

10/17/97

Philadelphia Judge Clarence Newcomer throws out a massive Castano group suit, a national class-action lawsuit against the cigarette companies, weeks before they were set to go to trial.

12/4/97

Cong. Bliley subpoenaes documents from four tobacco companies that are part of the Minnesota Medicaid case. The documents are released to his office and to the public later that week.

12/10/97

Hearings in Congressional Judiciary Committee on Lawyers Fees in the national tobacco settlement.

1/7/98

Justice Department brings charges against the DNA Plant Technology Corporation for their cooperation in developing Y-1 Tobacco, with high levels of nicotine and illegally exporting seeds to Brazil.

1/15/98

Texas settles with the tobacco industry for a record $14.5 billion.

1/26/98

Minnesota trial starts.

1/29/98

Tobacco executives testify before Congress that nicotine is addictive under current definitions of the word and smoking may cause cancer.

2/25/98

Tobacco executives tell Congress they would never agree to modify their advertising and marketing practices unless the lawmakers gave the industry substantial protection against lawsuits.

4/1/98

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) passes the McCain bill in the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill gives the FDA unrestricted control over nicotine and is much tougher than the June 20th agreement. It provides no liability protection for the industry, just a cap on potential yearly damages.

4/8/98

Steven Goldstone of RJR Nabisco announces that RJR is pulling support for a settlement and complains that the McCain bill will bankrupt his company. Within hours, the rest of the tobacco industry backs away from the global settlement.

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