Doctor Targets Tobacco Cos. Claims
MIAMI (AP) -- A former U.S. surgeon general, contradicting statements made by tobacco attorneys, testified Wednesday that two people at the center of a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against the nation's top cigarette makers got cancer from smoking.
Dr. Julius Richmond, who was the nation's chief medical officer under President Carter, said smoking caused Mary Farnan's lung and Frank Amodeo's throat cancers.
Richmond also said that when they began smoking as children in the 1950s and 1960s, the cigarette companies' advertising would have been factors in their conduct.
``I don't believe they would have been insulated from that,'' Richmond said.
He was expected to be cross-examined by tobacco industry lawyers, who had said Tuesday that there was no proof of the cause of the plaintiffs' cancers. The lawyers also said the dangers of smoking were well known, and Mrs, Farnan and Amodeo could have quit.
Mrs. Farnan, a 44-year-old nurse, and Amodeo, a 60-year-old clock maker, are being used to represent 500,000 ill Florida smokers.
The six-member jury hearing the case ruled in July that cigarettes are a defective product that causes cancer and other diseases and that the tobacco companies had engaged in ``extreme and outrageous conduct'' in selling and marketing.
The jurors must now decide how much the industry should pay in actual damages and for pain and suffering to Mrs. Farnan and Amodeo. If the jurors award damages to the pair, they could then award punitive damages to all of the ill smokers.
That award could reach $300 billion, tobacco industry attorneys have said in court documents.
R.J. Reynolds has asked the Florida Supreme Court to prevent the jury from making a lump-sum punitive award. The court on Wednesday asked the smokers' attorneys to respond to the company's request but has not decided whether it will review the case.