In closing the liability phase of Budnick v. R.J. Reynolds, plaintiff attorney Stephen Hammer reminded the jury that the defense agreed that Lenny Budnick died from lung cancer caused by cigarettes. The only question in the case, said Mr. Hammer, was whether Mr. Budnick was addicted to cigarettes.
"Any smoker can quit smoking cigarettes. That much we know. Any smoker can quit...We all know in our own lives people who have been addicted to any such substance...whether it's drugs, or alcohol, or cigarettes...R.J. Reyolds' position is that Lenny Budnick was not addicted because with the right motivation he could have quit...but any smoker can quit...Now I want you to think about this logically. Since any smoker can quit, and it's RJR's position that being able to quit means you're not addicted, well that means their position is that no smoker is ever addicted, if you follow that logic. But we know that's not the case."
For the defense, Jones Day's Kevin Boyce told the jurors in closing, "Despite how many times Mr. Hammer said it, there's not just one issue in this trial. There's two. And I don't know why he skips over the second one all the time. I think it's his eagerness to get to phase 2...But what you're really going to be asked...is was Mr. Budnick addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine, and then the second part is the one Mr. Hammer didn't talk about: It's if so, was such addiction a legal cause of his death. It's two questions...Did Mr. Budnick smoke because he wanted to, or did he smoke because he had to?..It is our position that Mr. Budnick smoked because he wanted to."