US & Canada

US tobacco firms win Missouri hospitals case

Generic photo of a cigarette being smoked
Image caption Hospitals had alleged that firms misrepresented the health effects of smoking

Six major US tobacco companies have defeated a lawsuit by hospitals seeking compensation for treating patients with smoking-related illnesses.

Thirty-seven hospitals in the state of Missouri had claimed cigarette companies delivered an "unreasonably dangerous" product.

They sought more than $455m (£272m) reimbursement for treating uninsured smokers who had not paid for care.

The hospitals treat many destitute, non-paying patients.

They said medical ethics required them to treat people in need, regardless of their ability to pay.

In the case, the hospitals claimed that tobacco companies manipulated the nicotine content in cigarettes and misrepresented the health effects of smoking.

But a jury in St Louis rejected their claim.

"The jury agreed with Philip Morris USA that ordinary cigarettes are not negligently designed or defective," said Murray Garnick of Philip Morris.

An official from Lorillard, another company in the case, said: "Compelling evidence was presented to the jury, including testimony from hospital witnesses, that confirmed the hospitals were not financially damaged as they asserted."

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