Assuming the Risk : The Mavericks, the Lawyers, and the Whistle-Blowers Who Beat Big Tobacco

by Michael Orey (Author)

Editorial Reviews

Mississippi is not widely known for being first in anything; in fact, Michael
Orey notes in Assuming the Risk, the state ranks last or near last on an
embarrassing array of scales. And yet, he writes, it was in the courtrooms of
this disparaged Southern state that a pioneering team of lawyers led the way in
a politically controversial crusade against the tobacco industry. Mississippi
was the first state in the nation to sue cigarette manufacturers to recover
smoking-related health care costs incurred by the state's Medicaid program. The
fierce legal battle resulted in a multibillion-dollar settlement and eventually
led to hundreds of billions of dollars in fines levied against the tobacco
industry when other states followed suit.

Though decidedly pro-plaintiff, Assuming the Risk is not another vituperative
rant against the Evil Empire of Big Tobacco: Orey does not shout and stomp on
his soapbox. Instead, the veteran legal journalist and Wall Street Journal
editor coolly focuses on the objective facts, presenting the who, what, where,
and when of a complex and contentious litigation. His well-researched and
detailed narrative spotlights the key figures in this real-life morality
play--the mavericks, lawyers, and whistleblowers--including one particularly
revealing chapter on Jeffrey Wigand, a former research scientist for the tobacco
firm Brown & Williamson, whose decision to break a confidentiality agreement by
speaking with 60 Minutes investigative reporter Mike Wallace became the subject
of the 1999 film The Insider. --Tim Hogan

From Publishers Weekly
As the Marlboro Man descends from the nation's billboards, Orey's account of the
first successful litigation targeting tobacco companies is well timed. For a
book documenting litigation, it's a joy to read largely because of its colorful
cast of characters: a Nazi apothecarist, Sylvester Stallone (accepting a cool
half million to light up his favorite brand of smokes in five movies), a witness
who wears a fresh clove of garlic as a tie tack to demonstrate his feelings
toward lawyers, the lawyers for big tobacco whose victory celebrations are
conducted in the presence of a skeleton with a cigarette jammed between its bony
fingers. Orey, who covered tobacco cases for the American Lawyer and is now an
editor at the Wall Street Journal, follows attorney Don Barrett as he tries
three cases against the tobacco industry, losing all of them and not earning a
penny, but persevering to help pilot Mississippi's Medicaid recovery suitAa
landmark case in which the tobacco companies settled for $3.6 billion. Like all
noteworthy villains, Orey's tobacco companies make their own fatal errors.
Hiring washed-up paralegals to index their most secret documents at $9 an hour
beggars the cloak-and-dagger antics that make this book such an enjoyable read,
regardless of how many packs a day one smokes. U.K. and translation rights:
Williams & Connolly.

Product Details

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 7, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316664898



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