Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Weinstein Certifies Light Cig Class

Judge Jack Weinstein (E.D.N.Y.) granted class-action status to a suit against tobacco makers over the marketing of "light" cigarettes as healthier than other cigarettes, even though the manufacturers knew the risks were similar. Smokers' suit gets class-action status, Seattle Times, Sept. 26, 2006.

Smokers' attorney Michael Hausfeld said the decision could clear the way for one of the largest class-action cases ever, both in number of plaintiffs and amount of damages. He estimated the class -- consisting of anyone who purchased cigarettes that were labeled 'light' or 'lights' after they were put on the market in the early 1970s -- could number up to 60 million.
Judge Weinstein has been on the bench since 1967 (that's right, he was appointed by President Johnson), and has presided over many high-profile cases, from Agent Orange to John Gotti. He took senior status in 1993, but still hears cases.

Before he became a judge he was a professor at Columbia Law School, and he has taught part-time at Brooklyn Law School since 1987. He was an original author of Weinstein's Federal Evidence, the authoritative work on evidence in the federal courts. (Since many states, including Washington, model their evidence rules on the federal rules, Weinstein's Federal Evidence is useful for many state questions too.) The current edition is edited by Judge Joseph M. McLaughlin (2d Cir.). Here at the UW, this six-volume set is in the Reference Area, KF8935 .W39 1997; it's also available on LexisNexis. Weinstein's coauthor was Prof. Margaret A. Berger of Brooklyn Law School.

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