Tobacco Firms Fault Winston Suit
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Two big tobacco companies asked a judge Monday to throw out a damage lawsuit filed by a former cigarette ad model who said he never smoked their brand.
Raymond Leopard of Little Rock is seeking at least $65 million in the federal lawsuit he filed in May, accusing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and one-time parent company R.J.R. Nabisco Inc. of manipulating the nicotine content of cigarettes and of deceiving him and the public about the dangers of smoking.
Leopard, 52, says his work as a "Winston Man" in the 1970s affected millions of people, and that he is wracked with guilt.
"Millions of people died because of me. Think of their mothers, their fathers, their uncles that have suffered," he said after filing suit in May.
In a motion Monday, lawyers for the tobacco companies labeled the lawsuit frivolous.
"(Leopard) seeks to recover $40 million in compensatory damages, in addition to punitive damages for alleged health effects of smoking even though (his) complaint never alleges the plaintiff ever smoked a single Winston cigarette," the motion said. "That is untenable."
It said Arkansas law prohibits the recovery of damages for personal injuries suffered by others.
Leopard has said the amount of damages he sought would help him make his point and persuade children not to smoke.
Leopard worked as a model for Reynolds in the late 1970s. After he filed the suit, he said he did not know that smoking caused cancer when he was working as a model.