Did Big Tobacco's Barrister Set Up A Smokescreen?

In Christopher Buckley's satirical novel Thank You For Smoking, Smoot, Hawking is an Omaha-based law firm doing whatever it takes to beat back dying smokers' claims against the tobacco industry. In real life, that onerous task for the past three decades has fallen to Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a Kansas City (Mo.) firm that has made the most of the opportunity. In hundreds of cases, Shook Hardy has made sure its tobacco clients have never paid out a dime to plaintiffs who blame tobacco makers for the deaths of thousands of Americans. "These are ferocious litigators," says Donald W. Garner, a professor at Southern Illinois University School of Law who worked as a consultant to the government's Office on Smoking & Health.

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