N.C. cigarette-maker Liggett found not liable in smoker's death
West Palm Beach, FL - North Carolina cigarette-maker Liggett Group Inc. is not responsible for the death of a Boca Raton woman who smoked the company's unfiltered Chesterfield brand, a jury decided.
Leila Schwartz died in 2002 after smoking for 50 years, according to the lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court by her husband, Leonard Schwartz. She was 72.
It took a jury 90 minutes to decide Thursday that Liggett, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., was not liable.
"I would've been happy to win money ... but more important was for (Liggett) to be liable for their lack of honesty," Schwartz said. "But the jury spoke and that's it."
Liggett attorney Aaron Marks argued that Leila Schwartz suffered from numerous illnesses, including depression, high blood pressure and heart disease, and that two heart attacks and a triple bypass surgery caused her death.
Doctors didn't consider a cancerous lung tumor found two months before she died to be terminal, Marks said.
"Liggett cigarettes did not cause Mrs. Schwartz's death," Marks said outside court. "Liggett acted responsibly."
Schwartz's attorneys maintained that Liggett continued to produce Chesterfields despite knowing they caused lung cancer.
In 1998, Liggett sold the Chesterfield brand to competitor Philip Morris, Marks said.