An Oregon jury cleared R.J. Reynolds of responsibility for the terminal cancer a woman developed after decades of smoking.Portland, OR— Jurors Friday afternoon cleared R.J. Reynolds of responsibility for the terminal lung cancer an Oregon woman developed after decades of smoking the company’s cigarettes, concluding what is likely the first in-person, state court tobacco trial in nearly a year.
Reynolds countered that Rickman smoked despite knowing the dangers of cigarettes. Representing Reynolds, attorney Steven Geise told jurors Rickman began smoking years after mandatory warnings went onto cigarette packs and continued despite widespread information concerning smoking’s dangers.
The evidence, Geise said, undercut Rickman’s contention that she did not believe smoking was dangerous until about 2015. “It stretches the bounds of reason,” Geise said, “to think that somebody could go into the 2010s and not have any idea that cigarette smoking was bad.”
The plaintiff’s attorney had requested up to $12.7 million for Rickman plus loss-of-consortium damages for her husband and a finding that punitive damages were warranted.
This is the first tobacco litigation in a while and a recent victory for the tobacco industry. The tide may be turning given all the recent label warnings that tobacco may cause cancer.