California Supreme Court Addresses Legal Deadlines for Tobacco Lawsuits

Smokers may sue the tobacco industry once they develop a disease like lung cancer, even if they suffered different smoking-related ailments years earlier, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday. The decision is likely to keep lawsuits alive that might otherwise have been thrown out because of expired legal deadlines and allow new suits to be filed, lawyers who filed the suit said. In the case before the court, Nikki Pooshs, a former smoker, was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 1989 and a couple of years later with periodontal disease, both attributable to smoking. But she did not sue the tobacco industry until she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2003. Cigarette makers argued that her suit should be dismissed because the timetable for suing began when she first discovered that smoking had injured her in 1989. State law gives people two years to sue after discovering an injury.

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