Tobacco Attorney Defends Industry
MIAMI (AP) - A tobacco industry lawyer told jurors Monday that the issues in the $14.4 million damage claim by three sick smokers can be boiled down to one basic question: Should they get paid for smoking?
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. attorney Gordon Smith holds an old cigarette ad as he addresses the jury Monday, April 3, 2000, about the $14.4 million damage claim filed by three sick smokers against the tobacco industry.``You can slice it and dice it however you want to. That's where you get to,'' said Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. attorney Gordon Smith.
The same jury that ruled last July that the industry conspired to produce a dangerous product is to begin a new round of deliberations later this week on whether the industry is at fault in the cases of the three smokers with cancer.
If any money is awarded, the jury would then hear still more testimony and be asked to set punitive damages for an estimated 500,000 sick Florida smokers also covered by the lawsuit. The industry, which already owes states about $250 billion, fears a $300 billion punitive award.
Smith was the last of the industry lawyers to present closing arguments.
Earlier Monday, attorneys for Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Liggett Group Inc. asked to be cleared of any damage claim because the three plaintiffs weren't regular users of their products.
Two of the smokers sometimes bummed Lorillard cigarettes but were never regular Lorillard smokers, and the third never recalled smoking any Lorillard product, said company attorney Ken Reilly.
They also never reported smoking any brands made by Liggett, the smallest of the nation's five biggest cigarette makers, said company attorney Kelly Luther.
The jury could still find all five cigarette makers in the case liable under umbrella fraud counts based on conspiracy, concealment or misrepresentation.
The other defendants are Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and two industry groups, the Council for Tobacco Research and the Tobacco Institute.