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Judge Rules Smoking Case Should Be Split

May 09, 1997|(Reuters)

A Florida judge has ruled that the trial of a secondhand smoke class-action lawsuit filed by airline flight attendants be split into two parts with common issues decided before individual claims. Dade County Judge Robert Kaye handed a measure of victory to plaintiffs in the case by ruling that a jury will hear evidence about the behavior of tobacco companies during the trial's first stage. The lawsuit, known as Broin vs. Philip Morris Cos. et al, was filed by a group of flight attendants who claim they were made ill by cigarette smoke on U.S. passenger jets. The trial, scheduled to begin June 2, will be the first class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The class action represents an estimated 60,000 nonsmoking flight attendants. The common issues are medical evidence on the alleged health effects of secondhand smoke and evidence on the behavior of tobacco companies. Separately, Ohio became the latest state to sue the tobacco industry.

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