By JUSTIN ROHATINSKY
Two local lawyers are representing a group of some 30,000 minors who are suing tobacco companies for just over 2 billion dollars.
B. Seth Bailey and his father H. Deloyd Bailey filed a class action lawsuit last month on behalf of two eighteen year olds and a seventeen year old. The suit asks for damages to be paid by nineteen major tobacco companies of up to $75,000 for each of the 30,000 plaintiffs.
“The suit is based on five specific causes of action, or reasons behind the suit. The plaintiffs will be suing for battery, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, negligence, and strict product liability,” Bailey said.
The plaintiffs got the idea to sue when new research came out on how the tobacco industry specifically targets minors in their advertising. “They got upset and now they’re going to try to give the tobacco industry what it deserves,” said B. Seth Bailey.
According to Bailey there are currently 19 similar suits filed across the country so it is not a new thing. “The thing that is different about this one is that the plaintiffs in this case are all minors. They all feel that they have been affected by the tobacco industries advertising, whether it be them personally or their friends and family,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that questions will come up as to whether or not advertising is the cause of these kids problems. “People think that kids just do it to be cool, which might be the case. What these kids are saying is not that it wasn’t their fault, to them it is a question of ethics. What these companies did was unethical and wrong and that’s why they’re suing.”
“A class action lawsuit is when a few named people represent a much larger group of people who are all wanting to sue for the same thing. It is a difficult thing to coordinate because there are so many people, so the coordination is what we’re working on right now,” said Bailey.
According to John Guynn, an attorney in Salt Lake, the tobacco companies are going to do all that they can to keep this case from going to court at the state level. “If they can get it to go to the Federal courts they will have a much better chance of winning,” said Guynn.
Bailey agreed and said that he will do all he can to keep the case in the state courts. “If it goes federal it will be a lot harder for us, but I still think we’ll win. We don’t need a smoking gun to win this one, but we’ve got one. The new research that came out is all we need,” Bailey said.
Bailey said that what he wants to accomplish through all of this is to alter the way that people behave and the way that minors and the tobacco companies see smoking.