ALBANY: Hill & Knowlton has been named as a codefendant in a dollars 3.4 billion lawsuit brought by a healthcare industry group and nearly 150 hospitals that seek reimbursement for the cost of treating uninsured patients suffering from tobacco-related illnesses.
ALBANY: Hill & Knowlton has been named as a codefendant in a
dollars 3.4 billion lawsuit brought by a healthcare industry group and
nearly 150 hospitals that seek reimbursement for the cost of treating
uninsured patients suffering from tobacco-related illnesses.
The 168-page lawsuit, brought by the Healthcare Association of New York
State (HANYS) and 147 private hospitals, paints H&K as ’the virtual
trade association for tobacco companies,’ according to HANYS. It claims
that the tobacco industry and its agents marketed and sold cigarettes
and smokeless tobacco products despite knowing that the products are
harmful, addictive and lead to serious illness and death.
Filed in State Supreme Court in Nassau County March 30, the suit also
seeks to recover costs of care provided to Medicaid and Medicare
patients whose plans did not fully cover their treatment.
’Hospitals have borne enormous costs above and beyond Medicaid,’ said
HANYS VP of corporate communications Jeannie Cross. ’This lawsuit is
seeking redress for that.’
A spokesman for H&K referred calls to COO/CFO Mark Thorne, who did not
respond by press time. A Brown & Williamson spokesman said the company
had not yet seen the suit, but added that courts have thrown out similar
He cited a ruling in an Oregon case last summer, where the Ninth Circuit
US Court of Appeals found that union trust funds don’t have the standing
to sue tobacco companies for fraudulent misrepresentation. ’The third
party has not been injured,’ he said. ’The person entitled is the person
Cross countered that the hospitals have indeed suffered. ’The harm is
very direct here - we can quantify that,’ she said. As for H&K’s role,
she said the firm spearheaded the creation of the Tobacco Industry
Research Committee, which denied claims made by tobacco’s critics. ’The
committee was a PR tool, not a research group,’ Cross said. ’H&K was
more than just a firm hired to do PR.’