SCOTUSblog has its usual comprehensive coverage of the first Supreme Court case of this term, Altria Group v. Good, which involves questions of express and implied preemption in the context of tobacco.
As Lyle Denniston explains, “More than four decades ago, the Federal Trade Commission – the federal government’s main regulator of business conduct – told the major companies making and selling cigarettes that it would not challenge factual statements they made about the tar and nicotine content of cigarettes, if the claims were based on tests done using what is called the “Cambridge Filter Method.”
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Three individuals who live in Maine – Stephanie Good, Lori A. Spellman and Allain L. Thibodeau – filed a class-action lawsuit, based on state law . . . . The low yields of the test method, according to the lawsuit, were offset by the actual smoking habits of users: they “compensated” by taking deeper puffs, holding the smoke in their lungs longer, or smoking more cigarettes. The lawsuit did not seek compensatory damages, but rather a return of the money smokers had paid for “light” cigarettes, along with a claim for punitive damages and recovery of their attorneys’ fees.
Philip Morris sought dismissal of the case, contending that state law claims had been displaced by the federal cigarette labeling and advertising law or FTC actions. The company made two claims of “preemption” of such state law claims: it said they were expressly pushed aside by the federal law controlling cigarette marketing, and were impliedly preempted by the FTC’s four-decades-long effort to implement a uniform policy on disclosing the health risks of smoking. A U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit on preemption grounds, but the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston reinstated it.”
Links to the full analysis and briefs are on the case’s SCOTUSwiki page, and links to the argument should be up very soon.
UPDATE: The transcript is now available.