When Miami plaintiffs' attorney Stanley Rosenblatt won $300 million from the tobacco industry on Oct. 10, he called it a huge win for his clients: flight attendants claiming injuries from secondhand smoke.
But the settlement money will fund research on the dangers of secondhand smoke. Not a dime goes to the plaintiffs. Meanwhile, Rosenblatt and his law partner wife, Susan, get $49 million for fees and expenses.
Rosenblatt says his settlement will help attendants sue because it forces the industry to prove secondhand smoke is not dangerous. But it bars them from bringing future class actions or suing for punitive damages.
Public Citizen Litigation Group, a Washington (D.C.) public interest group specializing in overturning settlements it deems abusive to plaintiffs, is trying to see if Rosenblatt's clients want to contest the deal. "I don't understand how anyone can think this is a good deal for the plaintiffs," says co-founder Alan Morrison.