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Judge Delays Tobacco Trial

WASHINGTON-- U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, who is overseeing the racketeering case against major tobacco companies, has delayed the Sept. 13 trial for eight days because of a conflicting criminal case, said Reuters.

The U.S. Justice Department has been pursuing charges against a group of tobacco companies, accusing them of deliberately misleading the public about the risks of smoking in a conspiracy going back to the 1950s. The government is seeking $280 billion in redress.

"Because a previously scheduled criminal trial will run longer than originally anticipated, it is hereby ordered that the trial date will be Sept. 21," Judge Kessler said in an order signed on Monday.

Targeted in the lawsuit are Altria Group Inc. and its Philip Morris USA unit; Loews Corp.'s Lorillard Tobacco unit, which has a tracking stock, Carolina Group; Vector Group Ltd.'s Liggett Group; and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco (new parent company, Reynolds American Inc., was formed on July 30 after British American Tobacco PLC and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings combined their U.S. tobacco operations).

The companies have denied any wrongdoing.
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