Lawsuits Facing the Cigarette Industry in the United States

RCED/OCE-98-262R: Published: Aug 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Sep 28, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO identified the number of lawsuits pending against the cigarette industry in the absence of a national settlement, focusing on the: (1) recent trend in the number of tobacco-related lawsuits pending against the five largest cigarette companies in the United States; and (2) number of these lawsuits that, to date, have been decided or settled and that have resulted, or will result, in some form of payment to the plaintiffs and the amount of these payments.

GAO noted that: (1) from 1994 through 1997, tobacco-related lawsuits pending in the United States against each of the five largest cigarette companies have increased about 10-fold, on average; (2) the companies' 1997 Securities and Exchange Commission filings and annual reports show that between about 364 and 547 lawsuits were pending against each of these companies--up from between about 24 and 86 lawsuits at the end of 1994; and (3) since 1996, 16 settlements or decisions have required these companies to make monetary payments of about $41.8 billion over 25 years.

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