Supreme Court won't block smokers' lawsuits against big tobacco companies

Richard Wolf
The Supreme Court refused Monday to block Florida smokers' lawsuits against two major tobacco companies.
The Supreme Court refused Monday to block smokers' lawsuits against major tobacco companies.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court refused Monday to block Florida smokers' lawsuits against two major tobacco companies.

The justices denied petitions from Altria Group and British American Tobacco seeking a way out of eight challenges filed by smokers and relatives of deceased smokers that could cost them billions of dollars. 

The cases name Philip Morris, since acquired by Altria, and R.J. Reynolds, since taken over by British American, as defendants.

Thousands of similar lawsuits were filed in Florida after a state court threw out a $145 billion class-action verdict in 2006 – but said smokers and their families could prove that smoking caused their addictions, illnesses or deaths.

The Supreme Court has thrown out similar petitions from Big Tobacco, allowing smokers' lawsuits to go forward.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court won't block smokers' lawsuits against big tobacco companies