Brown & Williamson Faces Claim in Connecticut Smoker's Death
Rockville, Connecticut, Nov. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. is defending itself in a Connecticut court against allegations the tobacco company is responsible for the death of a longtime smoker.
The family of Arlene DuJack claims the British American Tobacco Plc unit makes a defective and unreasonably dangerous product and should be forced to pay damages.
The mother of five, who lived in Killingly, Connecticut, died in 1999 of lung cancer after having smoked Kool cigarettes for 26 years.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based company contends the risks of smoking are well-known by the public and that DuJack knew of the risks and chose to smoke.
``Brown & Williamson will contend that Mrs. DuJack was able to quit smoking at any time, but chose not to quit,'' the company said.
In addition, the maker of Pall Mall and Lucky Strike cigarettes said DuJack's lung cancer originated in the pelvis and was not caused by smoking.
An attorney for DuJack couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Opening statements were scheduled today before Superior Court Judge Thomas Bishop in Putnam County. The six-member jury's verdict must be unanimous to reach a decision.
In an effort to curb its litigation risks, the tobacco industry in 1998 reached settlements with the states totaling $246 billion. The settlements, intended to reimburse the states for their cost of treating ill smokers, didn't preclude individual suits from proceeding.
Plaintiffs have not had much success in individual tobacco lawsuits away from the West Coast, where plaintiffs have won several multimillion-dollar verdicts since the 1998 settlement.
In August, a Los Angeles judge reduced a jury's award against Philip Morris Cos. to $100 million from $3 billion. Two prior cases in California and one in Oregon have produced verdicts between $21.7 million and $81 million. Those verdicts are being appealed.
British American Tobacco's American depositary receipts, each representing two ordinary shares, rose 1 cent to $16.83 in trading today.