Ironworkers

International Association of Bridge and Ironworkers, Local No 17
v Philip Morris et al

Federal Court, Akron, Ohio

Filed 1998

Verdict for the Defendant

Plaintiff attorneys: Robert Connerton of Connerton & Ray; Schwarzwald & Rock in Cleveland; the Landskroner Law Firm of Cleveland; Milberg, Weiss, Bershad, Hynes & Lerach in New York and San Diego; Stritmatter, Kessler, Whelan & Withey in Seattle; Kargianis, Watkins, Marler in Seattle; Roger M. Adelman of Washington, D.C.; G. Robert Blakey of Notre Dame Law School; and Einer R. Elhauge of Harvard Law School.

Timeline

  • 1998 – October 20: Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification granted
  • 1999 – March 18: Verdict and final judgment for the Defendant – unanimous verdict after 3 days of deliberation
  • 1999 – October 4: Plaintiff appeals to US Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • 1999 – November 3: Final Judgment entered

“Class of about 100 Ohio unions seeking recovery of fund assets (as well as treble and punitive damages) related to treating members suffering from tobacco-caused disease brought under theories of racketeering, antitrust and conspiracy.”

“One possible explanation for the pro-industry verdict, which came as a surprise to most observers, is the compressed time frame for the trial. Under an accelerated schedule ordered by the trial judge, in four weeks, the allegations of a first of its kind class action trial dealing with fraud and civil racketeering charges had to be proven. Likely, the one week provided to the plaintiffs to present the critical fraud and conspiracy aspects of the case to the jury was insufficient. Normally, long trials caused by industry litigation tactics benefit the industry. Here, an exceptionally and exceedingly short trial may have benefited the industry.”

“While some have characterized this loss as an end to union fund recovery litigation against Big Tobacco, a similar trial is scheduled for September in Seattle (Northwest Laborers Employers Health & Security Trust Fund et al. v. Philip Morris, Inc. et al.).”

 

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