Tobacco Connection Not Direct Enough for Premium Challenge

April 11, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Tobacco companies were not accountable for the increased costs of healthcare expenses due to smoking habits of other healthcare participants.

>The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dismissed the claim against tobacco companies finding the plaintiff’s failed to show a direct connection between the tobacco companies actions and their alleged injury.   In denying the appeal, the court affirmed the opinion of a lower district court and eight other appeals court, according to the appeals court written opinion.

>Gregory and Steven Perry, the plaintiffs in the case, saw otherwise.   The duo were participants in Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance plan in Tennessee and sued a group that consisted of 10 separate tobacco companies claiming the product these companies put out was causing medical harm to fellow Blue Cross/Blue Shield participants.   In turn, these participants were visiting medical professionals on a regular basis and thus the two were forced to pay increased insurance premiums due to the presence of smokers in the insurance pool.

>The appeals court referred back to the US District court for the Eastern District of Tennessee’s dismissal of the case on the grounds that the plaintiff’s injuries “are purely contingent on harm to the third-party smokers, these injuring are clearly indirect,” a decision affirmed by the appeals court.

Also, the court referenced either other federal appeals courts that have heard similar cases.   Like the ruling in the most recent case, the other eight uniformly concluded that such claims fail because any alleged injuries are too remote.

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