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Nigeria files $44B lawsuit against tobacco companies

[JURIST] The government of Nigeria [JURIST news archive] filed a lawsuit [BBC report] in a Nigerian federal court Wednesday against local tobacco producer International Tobacco Company, Ltd. and international tobacco producers British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International [corporate websites]. The lawsuit seeks upwards of $40 billion in damages for costs for the treatment of tobacco-related diseases in Nigeria and for the sale of cigarettes to minors in Nigeria. Also included in the lawsuit was a request to the court for an injunction preventing the marketing and sale of cigarettes to minors. Reuters has more. CNN/Dow Jones has additional coverage. The Daily Trust of Abuja has local coverage.

The Nigerian lawsuit comes as another in a succession of lawsuits brought by governments against tobacco companies [JURIST news archive] for health care costs associated with the treatment of tobacco-related diseases. Similar lawsuits have been filed in South Korea, Japan, and Canada. [JURIST reports] The federal government, 46 US states, and a number of US territories settled litigation [US Department of Justice backgrounder] against a number of tobacco companies in November 1998 [settlement summary] for damages stemming from tobacco-related health care costs. In 2006, a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the tobacco industry [JURIST news archive] was liable for civil racketeering charges filed against the industry by the Department of Justice in 1999. In a lawsuit out of Oregon, the US Supreme Court earlier this year overturned an $80 million punitive damages award [JURIST report] against Philip Morris. The jury made the award because it found the marketing tactics of Philip Morris were "reprehensible," but the Supreme Court found the damages to be improper.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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