Federal panel to hear key tobacco appeal

Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 9:28 a.m.

ATLANTA — A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments that could determine the fate of thousands of legal claims against tobacco companies.

A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is set to consider an appeal Tuesday of the 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action lawsuit against the tobacco companies but allowed each to file individual lawsuits.

The tobacco companies are hoping to reverse a part of the court's decision that upheld a jury's ruling that smoking causes illness. Such a ruling means that each individual trial would start with that as an established fact so that prospective plaintiffs won't need extensive expert testimony to prove that smoking causes illness.

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