Tobacco Lawyers Try Old Defense
MIAMI (AP) -- Facing a potentially crippling damage verdict, tobacco industry attorneys on Tuesday tried an old defense: smokers knew the dangers and could have quit, and their cancers may not have been caused by smoking.
Attorneys Ben Reid and Dan Webb, speaking to a jury that has already found tobacco products to be deadly and defective, told the panel that two smokers, Mary Farnan and Frank Amodeo, knew smoking's dangers and decided not to quit.
The six-member jury will decide how much the industry should pay in actual damages and for pain and suffering to Mrs. Farnan and Amodeo. They are being used by their attorney, Stanley Rosenblatt, to represent an estimated 500,000 ill Florida smokers in this class-action suit. If the jurors award actual damages to the pair, they could award punitive damages to all of the sick smokers.
That award could reach $300 billion, tobacco attorneys have said in court documents.
Mrs. Farnan, a 44-year-old north Florida nurse who has lung cancer, ``had a great deal of information about the risks of smoking ... but chose to continue to smoke,'' said Reid, who represents R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Amodeo, a 60-year-old Orlando clock maker who has throat cancer, knew in 1964 that the U.S. surgeon general ruled that smoking was dangerous and has seen such warnings on thousands of cigarette packages since, said Webb, who represents Philip Morris Inc.
``To say he was not aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking since that time is silly,'' Webb said.