Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. will not appeal a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that health warnings on cigarette packs do not protect tobacco companies from liability suits, the firm said.
In a statement, Louisville, Ky.-based Brown & Williamson said it is confident it would win if any liability cases were presented and will not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the New Jersey decision.The New Jersey ruling flew in the face of a series of federal decisions that gave tobacco companies immunity from smoker-death lawsuits after 1966, when Congress ordered the labels placed on cigarette packs.
The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Claire Dewey of Wyckoff in 1982. Her husband, Wilfred Dewey, had died a year before on his 50th birthday from lung cancer after smoking for more than 40 years.
The court decision said Mrs. Dewey had the right to sue.
In its statement, Brown & Williamson said it is "confident that, if there is a trial on the merits of the Dewey case, the company will prevail."
The company said the New Jersey case is "clearly contrary to all previous and subsequent federal court of appeals and state Supreme Court determinations. Review of the New Jersey Supreme Court decision may either not be necessary or be more appropriate after the Dewey case is concluded at the trial stage."
Telephone calls placed to the two other tobacco companies included in the Dewey suit - RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and American Brands - were not answered Monday.