300 Flight Attendants File Tobacco Lawsuits

Jan. 25, 2000
Flight Attendants in Miami are seeking compensation for their respiratory illnesses caused by second-hand smoke aboard jetliners.

Three hundred flight attendants -- who say they never smoked cigarettes -- plan to file individual lawsuits in Miami seeking compensation for alleged health injuries as a result of exposure to work-related environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

They are seeking millions of dollars in damages.

Thousands of other lawsuits are expected to be filed by September -- the deadline under a class-action settlement reached between the airline attendants and the tobacco companies in Miami-Dade Circuit Court in 1997.

As part of that agreement, flight attendants won the right to sue the tobacco industry on an individual basis.

Tobacco maker Philip Morris said that it will vigorously defend itself against the individual lawsuits.

"These newly-filed cases raise ETS claims similar to those rejected by jurors in two recent trials against the tobacco industry," said John J. Mulderig, an associate general counsel with Philip Morris. "In addition, punitive damages cannot be sought or awarded in these cases because of an earlier settlement with members of the Broin class-action lawsuit."

The tobacco industry settled the Broin class-action lawsuit by agreeing to fund a $300 million medical research facility and pay the flight attendants' attorney $46 million in attorneys' fees plus expenses.

"That settlement has no bearing on the merits of the individual claims of the flight attendants," said Mulderig.

R.J. Reynolds, another tobacco company, said it would not comment on the expected lawsuits because they had not been filed yet.

The flight attendants claim that they were subject to harmful second-hand smoke aboard jetliners daily that caused their respiratory illnesses.

Passengers were allowed to smoke on jetliners for years, until smoking was banned by most airlines in 1989.

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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