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Peter Castano was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against tobacco companies.
Peter Castano, a Louisiana attorney, died on March 13, 1993 at age 47. He started smoking at age 16. He is the husband of Castano plaintiff Dianne Castano, who tried hard to get him to quit smoking. On their honeymoon, Dianne Castano caught Peter sneaking a smoke and threw a drink at him. She never relented, and Castano spent ten years of marriage trying - with a spectacular lack of success - to hide his habit from his wife.
After Peter died, his wife implored Peter's friend, Wendell Gauthier, a prominent mass tort lawyer, to sue tobacco companies claiming they knew cigarettes were addictive, but failed to disclose that fact. Gauthier vowed to pursue the cigarette makers with a force never before seen on the plaintiffs’ side. Gauthier gathered over sixty of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ lawyers into a coalition to pursue a nationwide class action on behalf of Peter Castano’s widow and some sixty million other nicotine-addicted persons or their families. The group became known as the Castano group. Lawyers in the group agreed to pay $100,000 each to set up a central office with support staff, something that had never been done against the tobacco industry. At that point, the industry had never paid out anything in damages in 40 years of defending lawsuits.
In May 1996, a Federal appeals court judge dismissed the Castano national class-action lawsuit, and lawyers in the Castano group begin filing class-action lawsuits in individual states. These suits were known as the "little Castano" suits.
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