Miss. Tobacco Suit Rejected
HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) -- A jury rejected a $102 million wrongful death suit Wednesday filed against a tobacco company by the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer.
Kay Nunnally had claimed in her lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco that her late husband, 37-year-old Joseph Lee Nunnally, developed the cancer in 1987 after smoking cigarettes from the time he was a child.
The jury received the case late Tuesday after attorneys for Reynolds and Nunnally, of Southaven, completed their closing arguments.
``Nobody made him smoke,'' Reynolds' attorney Mike Ulmer said of Joseph Nunnally in his closing argument. ``He had a right to choose and that's what this case is all about.''
A defense expert witness, Dr. George Seiden of Shreveport, La., a psychiatrist, had testified that his experience and review of Nunnally's medical records led him to believe that Nunnally knew the hazards of smoking and could have stopped smoking if he had felt motivated to do so.
Kay Nunnally's attorney, Charles Merkel, said the company's focus on profits blinded company officials to the fact that they sold a dangerous product.
``Greedy, selfish and uncaring -- that's what their actions have demonstrated,'' Merkel told the jury. ``The bottom line, net profit, is the only thing R.J. Reynolds understands.''
In Florida, jurors are considering whether to levy a punishing punitive award against five tobacco companies on behalf of hundreds of sick smokers in the state in a landmark class-action suit. The jury has already awarded three representative smokers $12.7 million in compensatory damages.