Cases against big tobacco companies are not as common as they were in the 1990s and early 2000s, but people are still dying from lung cancer and suffering from other smoking-related illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and cases are still being filed by products liability attorneys across the nation including our Greater Boston area. The main issue in these cases is how to deal with any fault attributed to plaintiff. While there was a time when the general public was not aware of the harm smoking could cause, and there was even a time when R.J. Reynolds used to advertise “More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette,” the dangers of smoking have long since been publicized.
In Smith v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals from the Eleventh Circuit, surviving spouse of plaintiff filed a products liability lawsuit against the tobacco company which produced her preferred brand of cigarettes. She smoked regularly for decades and eventually died of various diseases often associated with long-term smoking of cigarettes. At trial, a jury found in favor of plaintiff, but defendant appealed arguing the jury award should be reduced due to plaintiff’s alleged in negligence in choosing to smoke on a regular basis for many years. This particular case was filed under a theory of wrongful death. Continue reading