Separate groups of plaintiffs’ lawyers targeting Big Tobacco and the gun industry are steering cases to a maverick federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., apparently hoping he will accept novel theories of industry-wide liability that might not succeed in any other courtroom in America.

In April, plaintiffs’ lawyers quietly filed a nationwide smokers’ class action against seven tobacco industry defendants in the Eastern District of New York. They got the case assigned to Judge Jack B. Weinstein, a judge with senior status who is known for unconventional rulings that often push the limits of tort law. Sturgeon v. Philip Morris Inc. , No. 99-1988.

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