Defense Closing in Warrick v. Reynolds Tobacco Trial

Posted by msch on Aug 2, 2010 1:25:00 PM

Ken Reilly in Warrick v Reynolds Closing ArgumentShook Hardy Bacon's Kenneth Reilly closed for the defendant tobacco companies in Warrick v. R.J. Reynolds, webcast live by CVN.

Mr. Reilly asked the jury, "Who was in control of Ms. Warrick's lifestyle choices that came with the risk of health dangers -- heart, exercise, diet, weight -- the whole shooting match. Because that informed you how Mrs. Warrick lived her life." During the course of this trial, Mr. Reilly told the jury, you got to know Mrs. Warrick a bit. You got a window into her life, about how she made her choices, day by day.

When you know who controlled her decisions, then you can determine who, if anyone, is responsible for her smoking, her contracting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and eventually her death.

"What [the plaintiffs] have to actually prove," said Mr. Reilly, "is that Mrs. Warrick's addiction was so powerful that she became an involuntary smoker. That she couldn't quit, or couldn't quit on time to avoid getting COPD." But plaintiffs have admitted that she could have quit smoking, because her acts and omissions related to the frequency of her efforts to quit ARE a cause. That means they have admitted that she could have quit -- and quit in time to avoid her developing COPD.

According to Mr. Reilly, the environmental forces encouraging Mrs. Warrick to start smoking were overwhelming, compared to the effect tobacco advertising. She grew up with her parents farming tobacco. The people dearest to her smoked. Mrs. Warrick's own testimony showed that she had never heard the Frank Statement to Smokers. She testified, as well, that she thought the Marlboro Man on television was "such a stupid commercial." She testified, "I don't pay that much attention to ads," and she never heard any statement by cigarette companies about tobacco and health.

However, Mrs. Warrick did learn of the dangers of smoking from the powerful experience of seeing her own sister diagnosed with COPD in the 1950s, and hearing even at the time that her sister's COPD was caused in part by heavy smoking. Ms. Warrick conceded in her deposition testimony that the 1966 cigarette warning labels didn't tell her anything she didn't already know, said Mr. Reilly, because she already knew that smoking came with heavy consequences.

CVN is webcasting the Eveline Warrick v. Reynolds trial live.

Topics: Toxic Torts, Products Liability, Engle Progeny, Warrick v. RJ Reynolds, Tobacco Litigation