Closings Begin In Warrick Tobacco Retrial

Posted by msch on Oct 1, 2010 1:55:00 PM

Robert Shields of Doffermyre Shields in Warrick v Reynolds Retrial Closing Argument"Everybody knows that Eveline Warrick was addicted to cigarettes," plaintiff attorney Bob Shields told the jury, in closing argument of the re-trial of Warrick v. R.J. Reynolds, webcast live by CVN"The evidence is overwhelming, and there is no contrary evidence at all. The answer to question #1 on the form has to be 'yes.'"

"The second question -- did this addiction cause or contribute to causing COPD -- is equally clear...the second question only requires you to say that her addiction was a substantial contributing factor, and the evidence of that is overwhelming. Her continuing to smoke was a result of the addiction."

Mr. Shields challenged Mr. Reilly's proposed timeline claiming that Ms. Warrick knew from early on that cigarettes were dangerous. After reviewing portions of Ms. Warrick's deposition transcript, Mr. Shields concluded, "It was in the late '80s that she finally realized that cigarettes were dangerous, that they caused cancer...So the evidence is a bit contrary to everything you have heard from the defense in this trial about Ms. Warrick."

Mr. Shields told the jury that the tobacco companies were liable for the harm to Ms. Warrick resulting from her COPD, regardless of whether she died of COPD or died of something else, such as heart disease.  Therefore, the evidence that Ms. Warrick had died of a heart attack unrelated to smoking only went to the measure of damages, not the liability for damages. 

Kenneth Reilly of Shook Hardy Bacon in Closing Argument of Warrick v Reynolds RetrialShook Hardy Bacon's Kenneth Reilly reminded the jury that Ms. Warrick's father had grown his own tobacco, and made his own cigarettes, and that Eveline had tried those cigarettes. She grew up in a family that was very familiar with tobacco.

Mr. Reilly also reviewed specific tobacco advertisements that Ms. Warrick had characterized as "stupid" or, in the case of Virginia Slims, "a disgrace to women." Mr. Reilly suggested that Ms. Warrick was not positively influenced toward smoking by cigarette advertisements. There was no direct connection, said Mr. Reilly, between what R.J. Reynolds or Phillip Morris did, that had a substantial impact on Eveline Warrick, and thus could be a legal cause of her smoking. For example, Ms. Warrick had never heard of the Frank Statement about cigarette smoking, nor had she seen any of the cigarette companies' internal memos.

Jonathan Engram of Womble Carlyle in Warrick v RJ ReynoldsWomble Carlyle's Jonathan Engram argued that the plaintiffs had asserted several theories of why Ms. Warrick died, but had failed to sufficient evidence to prove that her death resulted from cigarette use. The defense, however, presented ample evidence that Ms. Warrick's sudden death resulted from heart abnormalities. "The evidence is overwhelming," said Mr. Engram, that Ms. Warrick had a severe electrical problem with her heart, and the chain of events showed that this was the cause of her death. "Mrs. Warrick's heart was just not beating on schedule."

CVN webcast both the original trial and the re-trial in Warrick v. R.J. Reynolds live, gavel-to-gavel.

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