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Article Title

State Medical Reimbursement Lawsuits After Tobacco: Is the Domino Effect for Lead Paint Manufacturers and Others Fair Game?

Document Type

Symposium

Abstract

In 1998 the tobacco industry reached a settlement with the government for $246 billion. The massive size and scope of the states' tobacco settlement will inevitably exert a powerful influence on tort litigation for decades. The proliferation of copycat lawsuits, such as lead paint claims, seeking to emulate the spectacular success of the tobacco lawsuits will be one of the first aftershocks. The appropriate legislative response to this copycat litigation is to enact legislation limiting mass tort claims by states and other government entities. Because politics and economics may be influencing the filing of these lawsuits, rather than a purer quest for justice, a political response is needed. The massive size of these claims and their enormous potential impact on society create complex policy issues that are better addressed by legislature than by courts. The extent to which state legislatures allow these copycat lawsuits to succeed in forcing large settlements without regard to the substantive merit will play a significant role in determining whether we are entering an era of "regulation through legislation."

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