Richard A. Posner

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Richard A. Posner is Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Mr. Posner is also a senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and a member of the Academic Advisory Council at the Locke Institute.

Posner is a proponent of rational choice theory (in terms of risk-taking behavior).

Posner founded, practically singlehandedly, the Law and Economics Movement, which seeks to rationalize law using the analytical techniques of economics.

Posner and tobacco issues

In 1996 a New Orleans federal appeals court threw out the huge class-action lawsuit called the Castano case, brought against the tobacco industry on behalf of millions of addicted smokers. The plaintiffs were seeking compensation for damages caused by their alleged addiction to nicotine. The dismissal of the case removed the most serious liability threat posed to cigarette makers at the time. In dismissing the suit, the Court relied heavily on a decision made a year earlier by Seventh U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner in an unrelated case involving injury and wrongful death suits brought by some 300 hemophiliacs against several major drug companies. The hemophiliacs alleged that they contracted the AIDS virus through bloodclotting medicine. In dismissing the hemophiliac's class action, Judge Posner concluded that multiple individual trials would violate the defendants' rights to have a single jury determine core issues, such as the degrees to which the companies and plaintiffs might be responsible for injuries. Essentially forcing the companies to stake their entire futures on the result of a single jury trial, Posner ruled, created such an enormous liability risk that it amounted to legal extortion. The New Orleans panel applied the same view to the Castano case, and cited the cases's uniqueness and the difficulty in finding legal precedents to draw upon in considering such a case.

Tobacco company stock prices leapt after the Castano case was dismissed. [1]

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