It was a "case of David versus Goliath," as hospitals took on tobacco companies in Missouri, a hospital lawyer says—and Goliath won. A jury decided yesterday that tobacco companies aren't liable for money spent on patients with tobacco-related illnesses who can't pay their bills, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The $455 million lawsuit, filed on behalf of dozens of hospitals who treat many destitute, non-paying patients, had taken 13 years to come to trial.
The hospitals argued that cigarette makers had delivered an "unreasonably dangerous" product that left hospitals stuck with the cost of treating uninsured patients with smoking-related illnesses. "The jury here found that ordinary cigarettes are not defective and not negligently manufactured, and that's what this case was all about," a lawyer for Philip Morris says. Some 160 similar cases nationwide never made it as far as trial.