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Tobacco Companies Oppose Dropping Federal Cases

Three big tobacco companies are opposing a plan by attorneys for 499 Florida plaintiffs filing suit to have their federal cases against the companies dismissed.

Defense attorneys for R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA, and Lorillard argue that the plaintiffs' proposal is an attempt to file their cases only in state court, which one tobacco company attorney said is "blatant forum shopping."

Attorney Woody Wilner, who is representing thousands of smokers who have sued tobacco companies, disagrees, saying the move is intended to ensure that more plaintiffs get their day in court before they die.

"This is just a matter of how many courtrooms we can get," he said. "We want these people who are dying regularly to have trial dates."

Nearly 3,800 tobacco cases are currently pending in federal court in Jacksonville, which has far fewer civil trial judges than state courts.

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