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Big Lie, The: Holding the Tobacco Industry Accountable


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Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: Filmakers Library
Closed Captioned:
Running Time: 52 mins
Country of Origin: Australia
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2005
Available in French: No

This is a global court room drama where the stakes are billions of dollars smoking by aggressive marketing strategies. The case started in Australia where Rolah McCabe, a smoker since she was nine years old, was terminally ill with lung cancer. She sued British American Tobacco for manipulating the truth regarding its research on the hazards of smoking. It appears that fifty years of data on research by British American Tobacco have gone missing due to a company policy to systematically destroy the incriminating documents. The cast of characters includes McCabe?s attorney, Peter Gordon, a dedicated public interest lawyer; Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a nicotine addiction specialist and former employee of the tobacco company; and Frederick Gulson, a former legal counsel for the tobacco company. The plaintiff in Australia wins at first, only to have the decision overturned by an appellate court. Attorney Peter Gordon says, "I've never been in a fight where justice was on my side and I lost." He is confused and has unsettling doubts about the justice system. However, the case against "big tobacco" isn?t over. The U.S. Department of Justice is building on evidence revealed in the Australian lawsuit to take on the tobacco company in a fraud and racketeering lawsuit. It is seeking unprecedented damages of hundreds of billions of dollars. This will no doubt be pursued through the courts for years. NOTE: Russell Crowe's character in The Insider was modeled on Jeffrey Wigand.