New York Jury Rejects Ex-Smoker's Cancer Claim
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A jury in the New York State Supreme Court for Kings County in Brooklyn on Tuesday rejected claims by a former smoker and his wife that he got lung cancer and emphysema from smoking, lawyers said.
The jury threw out a lawsuit brought against six tobacco companies including Philip Morris Cos. Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. by Clyde Anderson and his wife Maxine.
Anderson, 57, testified that he smoked for more than 30 years before quitting in 1993 after experiencing breathing problems. He filed his lawsuit four years later after being diagnosed with lung cancer and emphysema.
William S. Ohlemeyer, Philip Morris vice president and associate general counsel, said the jury's verdict was ``vivid proof that our central defenses to smoking cases remain strong, that juries recognize the overriding issue of personal responsibility and the freedom to make one's own lifestyle choices.''
New York anti-smoking activist Joseph Cherner of SmokeFree Educational Services Inc. said the latest ruling followed a recent pattern of a growing dichotomy between West Coast and East Coast juries on such smoker lawsuits.
``East Coast juries seem to be saying that if you're stupid enough to smoke, then you deserve lung cancer, while West Coast juries seem to be saying that the tobacco companies are also partially responsible for having lied about their product,'' Cherner told Reuters.
CS First Boston analyst Bonnie Herzog said, ``Given the industry's recent loss in the Whiteley individual trial in San Francisco, the market did not expect the tobacco industry to prevail in this trial.''
``This victory, however, lends further evidence to our view that the litigation environment is improving. We believe individual trials do not present a significant threat to the industry and should be viewed as a cost of doing business,'' she told Reuters.
Herzog has ``buy'' ratings for both Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.