Court Rejects Medical Monitoring Class Action Against PM USA

RICHMOND, Va. — Philip Morris USA said a federal judge on Monday rejected a request by a group of California plaintiffs seeking class certification in a medical monitoring lawsuit against the tobacco company, saying that there was no reliable way to identify the class members.

“This decision is absolutely consistent with existing law and the overwhelming majority of previous decisions denying class certification of smokers’ medical monitoring claims,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA.

In its decision, the court said the ruling was based on an inability to identify class members. Said the court, “The question thus would come down to the state of mind of the putative class member, and it would be easy to fade in or out of the class depending on the outcome. The state of affairs is problematic for class certification, and none of the plaintiffs’ arguments to the contrary are persuasive.”

Garnick noted that a federal judge in the U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York dismissed a similar medical monitoring claim in New York (Caronia) in January and that these decisions should have significant influence on two other cases in which plaintiffs are seeking medical monitoring.

Richmond, Va.-based Altria Group Inc. directly or indirectly owns 100% of each of PM USA, U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. LLC, John Middleton Co., Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd., and PMCC. Altria holds a continuing economic and voting interest in SABMiller plc.


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