Trial Lawyers Say Hello to an Old Friend

Boston law firm Kelley, Bernheim & Dolinsky, LLC may be seeking to relitigate the legal war between Big Law and Big Tobacco. This firm has released two TV ads calling attention to a $152 million verdict awarded to a 54-year-old lung cancer victim who alleged that R.J. Reynolds handed out free promotional samples of Newport cigarettes to children in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Boston’s Orchard Park neighborhood.

The 1990s were notable for the contentiousness between the tobacco industry, governments (federal and state) and individuals seeking financial restitution for the healthcare costs imposed by smoking. These civil actions culminated in the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement reached in 1998, whereby Big Tobacco settled Medicaid lawsuits with 46 states to the tune of $206 billion. This agreement apparently indemnified these corporations against private tort actions pursued by individuals; Kelley, Bernheim’s ad campaign may bring back unpleasant memories for these tobacco companies and their legal teams. Though targeted at a Boston audience, this ad activity has occurred solely in the Springfield, MA market a total of 44 airings at a cost approaching $2,000.

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