Top

blog

Stories

 

Hospitals Lose in Big Tobacco Money Grab in St. Louis Court

bacall smoking.jpg
Just because you light up doesn't mean Big Tobacco has to share the cost of your subsequent hospital care, a St. Louis jury decided today.
After thirteen years of litigation, three months of trial and just over six days of jury deliberations, a group of 37 area hospitals have struck out in their attempts to force Big Tobacco to pay up.

The hospitals were seeking $455 million, saying the sum was necessary since the hospitals have to foot the bill for patients suffering from smoking-related illness who don't have the money to cover their own treatment. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the jury has now issued a series of verdicts in the complicated case, ruling in favor of the tobacco companies in every single one.

As Business Week has reported, the case, the City of St. Louis v. American Tobacco, was the third such attempt by U.S. hospitals/third-party payers to make it to trial. To say they've been less than successful is an understatement.

The first, in 1999, was filed in Ohio and also won by the tobacco companies; while an insurance group prevailed in a similar attempt, in 2001, their $17.8 million victory was overturned by the appellate court. (That said, other than the precedent it might set, we highly doubt that the attorneys involved considered $17.8 million all that big a victory anyway.)

And, as the Post-Dispatch reported earlier this year, another 160 or so cases had been filed around the country, making similar claims. The St. Louis case was one of the few to overcome enough hurdles to make it to this point.

As we reported last year, the case was originally expected to last six months, and the St. Louis City Circuit Court actually sent letters to 6,000 prospective jurors, asking whether they could be available for such a lengthy trial. However, today's verdict wraps things up in roughly half that time.

So do you think there's any chance the failure will convince trial lawyers to stop bringing these kinds of cases -- that they now "get" that juries are simply unwilling to hold tobacco companies responsible for hospital bills of smokers who consciously chose to use their (still legal) products?

The key phrase here is probably "trial lawyers." Which makes us conclude that the answer is probably "no freakin' way."

In fact, we bet they're already plotting their appeal.

My Voice Nation Help
7 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Duhh!!
Duhh!!

Get facts together Russ-These hospitals chose to band together, hire lawyers, pay them by the hour and try their case. This was the effort of a sophisticated BUSINESS going after tobacco - not the "TRIAL LAWYERS" as you say. You need to quit drinking the kool-aid that the lawyers are responsible for everything bad in this Country. Just hope you never need one, but if you do, there are lawyers that can help.

Edward B
Edward B

WHERE is all the money the state received from the tobacco companies????How many smokers did THAT money help??

Greg RN
Greg RN

Well, it would be good if hospitals would first ban smoking completely on their campuses. Most do not. It should be a requirement to receive Medicare and Medicaid compensation that smoking be banned--not just from a zone 20-30 feet from the hospital. And if a patient insists on smoking or chewing tobacco--discharge that patient home!

Mntvernon
Mntvernon

Greg ,you're an idiot! In case you haven't noticed DHSSs Jane Drummond, under Gov. Boy Blunt put smokers on the hit list anywhere on hospital property:http://www.mdn.org/2006/STORIE...four years by administrative rule fiat! Despite Nanny Janes' touchy-feel-ly campaign headed by fruits, nut & flakes (The Breakfast Club):http://www.lgbttobacco.org/fil... and millions down the drain the state has fallen way behind.With stupid comment like yours it's no wonder people are scared to death of hospitals and their ill-informed staffs:http://www.chron.com/disp/stor...

diana benanti
diana benanti

just to be clear then, you're a registered nurse advocating that hospitals stop providing care to individuals with addictions?

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

Just encourages smokers to put off treatment as long as possible. How smart is that?

RUSS CARNAHAN
RUSS CARNAHAN

WELL, LET'S SEE NOW. HAD THE HOSPITALS WON THEIR $455M JUDGMENT, THE LAWYERS WOULD GET FEES OF APPROX $122M (33.33% OR HIGHER) BEFORE EXPENSES WHICH APPEAR TO BE ASTRONOMICAL. BY THE TIME THE FEE AND EXPENSES WERE DEDUCTED FROM THE JUDGMENT THE 37 HOSPITAL PLAINTIFFS WOULD END UP WITH VERY LITTLE AFTER THE MONEY PIE WAS DIVIDED. SCORE THIS AS A VICTORY AGAINST THE MONEY GRUBBING TRIAL LAWYERS.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...