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Consumer Class-Action Suits on Trial

Consumer class-action lawsuits in California, which have encountered mounting skepticism from courts, face a major test in a tobacco case to be decided Monday by the state Supreme Court.

The court will determine whether smokers who say they purchased cigarettes in response to deceptive ads can collectively sue the industry for the money they spent to smoke.

The court has grappled with the case for more than two years, trying to determine the reach of Proposition 64, a 2004 initiative intended to stop bogus lawsuits aimed at extorting money from small business. During the last several years, lower courts have tossed out many consumer class actions and scrutinized settlements more closely.



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