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Ruling Clouds Issue On Tobacco Suits

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An effort by California´s Supreme Court to clarify the state´s convoluted tobacco liability law is only clouding the issue, with both sick smokers and cigarette makers claiming victory.

The high court says smokers who got sick between 1988 and 1998 are out of luck. That´s during a time when a state law protected tobacco companies from liability. But smokers who can prove they got sick anytime outside that ten-year period can sue.

Plaintiffs´ attorneys say the two rulings issued by the court today will allow more lawsuits to go forward and expose the industry to millions of dollars in damages. They expect more suits to be filed based on the decisions. But tobacco companies are cheering the rulings as limiting the industry´s liability.