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JUNE 1998

Vacco tobacco bill killed

Legislators rejected an eleventh-hour bill proposed by Attorney General Dennis Vacco designed to change the rules for one industry in one tort case-even though the case has been on file and moving forward for over a year.

The Business Council opposed this bill, as it would any such proposal to rewrite tort law to rig pending cases.

The bill would have affected only a single lawsuit in which New York State is seeking to recover past and future Medicaid costs for care of patients whose illnesses are linked to tobacco.

The bill would have allowed the state to sidestep the common-sense requirement-established for centuries in common law-that plaintiffs demonstrate proof of damages.

Instead, the state would be allowed to establish causation and damages solely by "statistical analysis."

The bill would also eliminate the statute of limitations and would be retroactive to January 1, 1997.

June 25, 1998