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HOME > CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT

Dismissal of lawsuit upheld in split decision by Appeals Court on May 18, 2001.

Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies Filed in Philadelphia Federal District Court
The national civil rights class action lawsuit on behalf of African American smokers of mentholated cigarette brands was filed in Federal District Court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 19, 1998.

On September 23, 1999, U.S. District Judge John R. Padova dismissed the lawsuit, stating that the civil rights laws did not cover the target marketing of tobacco products. The attorneys for the plaintiffs have appealed the judge's ruling and briefs are due to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 3rd District by June 15, 2000.

Menthol Lawsuit Time Line

Monday, December 7, 1998
This was the first court date for Brown et. al. vs. Philip Morris et. al. was Monday, December 7, 1998, in Philadelphia. The tobacco industry had approximately 30 lawyers there—including lawyers flown in from England. The plaintiffs had its four attorneys present: William R. Adams, Jr. and Carol A. Black of Black & Adams; veteran tobacco litigator Stephen Sheller of Sheller Badey & Ludwig; and Robert Kaczorowski, a Fordham University law professor and expert on civil rights law. The tobacco industry lawyers tried to get the case dismissed immediately—and failed.

April 7, 1999
Oral arguments were heard.

September 23, 1999
Judge John A. Padova initially dismissed the case.

October 8, 1999
Plaintiffs filed an appeal.

June 15, 2000
Legal briefs are submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

August 10, 2000
Additional legal briefs are submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

May 18, 2001
In a split decision (2:1), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholds the dismissal of the lawsuit by the lower federal court.

An excellent description of the lawsuit and the factors that led to its filing can be found in the Philadelphia Magazine article entitled Holy Smokes! that ran in the magazine's February 1999 issue.

Also available on this web site is a Menthol Lawsuit Documents page with the NAAAPI News Release issued October 21, 1998 announcing the lawsuit and a SCARNet Action Alert on the lawsuit issued October 30, 1998 by the Advocacy Institute.


Last updated 05/19/01

Fact sheet for the lawsuit.

Fact sheet for menthol in cigarettes.

Article about the Menthol lawsuit.

Other media coverage on the lawsuit.

The Civil Rights lawsuit.



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