Opening Statements in Willis v. Reynolds Retrial

Posted by msch on Sep 17, 2010 12:22:00 PM

Attorneys-Hendrik-Uiterwyk-and-Walter-Cofer-in-Willis-v-RJ-ReynoldsAccording to Abrahamson & Uiterwyk's Hendrik Uiterwyk, in Willis v. R.J. Reynolds, plaintiff Jimmy Willis suffered from laryngeal cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by Willis' addiction to smoking. Mr. Willis stopped smoking in 1993 after he contracted laryngeal cancer, and as a result of the surgery, could only speak or breathe through a hole is his throat.

Mr. Uiterwyk told the jury that Mr. Willis first smoked at age 5 and smoked more and more -- eventually three packs per day -- and did not quit smoking until he was 52 years old. "[The defense] will not have one credible witness who says he's not addicted," Mr. Uiterwyk told the jury.

Shook Hardy Bacon's Walter Cofer told the jury, "Legal cause is going to be an important issue in this case." Mr. Willis would have to show that, "but for the addiction, he would not have made his decision to smoke, and would not have gotten sick."  Mr. Cofer predicted that the experts would say that "he always had the ability to quit. The addiction did not take away his free will."  Mr. Willis did not decide to quit, even after learning of the risks of tobacco in the 1960s, until after he contracted cancer in the 1990s.

Further, said Mr. Cofer, "Cigarette smoking had nothing to do with the bladder cancer, and Mr. Willis did not have lung cancer."

Cigarette Brands Willis Smoked

Jimmy Willis Deposition

CVN is webcasting Willis v. Reynolds live. The case was originally tried starting April 16, 2010, but ended in a mistrial.

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