Plaintiff attorney Todd McPharlin, of Kelley Uustall, told the jury that the evidence would show that Matthew Buonomo's addiction to cigarettes caused emphysema, a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Matthew allegedly died, in December 2008, from end-stage COPD.
"He smoked three packs a day for almost 40 years," said Mr. McPharlin. "He smoked first thing in the morning...If he ran out, he'd look for cigarette butts in the ash trays around the house...That's addiction. That's what he went through. He smoked when he shaved. He smoked when he ate. He smoked as he was walking into church."
"For over 20 years he tried to quit. There were times when he would go a couple days, three days. I think the longest he went was about five days. And the family remembers how hard it was....The reason why it was so hard for them is because they were desperately addicted to a drug -- to one of the most addictive drugs there is."
According to defense attorney Steven Geise, of Jones Day, "Mr. Buonomo smoked because he wanted to, not because he was addicted....He made his own decisions. When he wanted to, he quit cold turkey, in the mid 1990's, and he never smoked again. That will be the evidence."
In addition, said Mr. Geise, "the plaintiff cannot prove that Mr. Buonomo had COPD or emphysema before November 21, 1996. The medical evidence will show that he had congestive heart failure, a disease that is not caused by smoking. And that congestive heart failure, 13 years later, caused his death, at the age of 80."