New York Court of Appeals

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New York Court of Appeals enforces requirement of utility-design comparison evidence

December 16, 2008

The Court of Appeals of the State of New York affirmed the lower court's dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims because plaintiffs failed to prove or even allege that ‘regular’ cigarettes and ‘light’ cigarettes have the same utility. According to the court, proof that a safer product is as acceptable to customers as the regular product is an essential element of design defect claims where the product's only function is to satisfy customers. The court explained that if such proof were not required, the plaintiff's liability theory would amount to a ‘judicial ban’ on all regular cigarettes.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

October 04, 2008

NCLC urged the Court of Appeals of the State of New York to affirm the lower court dismissal of a defective design claim because the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence comparing the usefulness to consumers of ultra-light and regular cigarettes. The plaintiffs’ theory - a sharp break from existing law - would make it much easier for plaintiffs to prevail in design defect cases.

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