Defense Verdict in Weick Tobacco Trial

Posted by msch on Apr 12, 2011 6:43:00 PM

Steve Ruth and Steve Kaczynski AttorneyWeick v. R.J. Reynolds (Tampa, Florida).

Florence Weick brought this lawsuit on behalf of Richard Weick, who died of lung cancer in 1997. Mr. Weick started smoking in 1942, at the age of 13, 24 years before the first warning label appeared on any cigarette package.

Steven Ruth, of Beltz & Ruth, told the jury, "They knew all along that their products were addicting people, and they knew all along that their products would bring about death. But they decided -- they chose -- to make it as easy as possible for people to start smoking...and to make it as difficult as possible for people to quit. And they decided to make it as easy as possible for people to relapse after they had quit.

"You are going to get a rare glimpse into the private, secret, confidential world of many of these cigarette manufacturers. And what you're going to see is not very heartwarming.

"We contend that R.J. Reynolds made choices throughout its corporate existence, through these decades, after they knew what was going on, and that they are responsible for their choices just like Richard Weick is responsible for his choices.

"Now the evidence that you are going to see in these documents doesn't just show that they placed profits above human life. It shows that they did it without a real care, and without a thought."

Representing R.J. Reynolds, Jones Day's Steve Kaczynski told the jury, "This case is not about whether smoking causes cancer -- it can. This is not about whether smoking is addictive -- it is.

"Instead, this case is very specifically about Mr. Weick and what happened to him. This case is about Richard Weick and the choices he made. And this case is about whether R.J. Reynolds did anything or said anything that at all influenced any of his choices. And the evidence in this case will show that nothing that Reynolds did...influenced anything that Mr. Weick did."

"Now what choices am I talking about? It's really two: The choice to smoke, and the choice to continue to smoke."

The jury found that addiction to cigarettes was not the legal cause of Mr. Weick's death.

Mr. Kaczynski's other Engle trials include Brown v. R.J. Reynolds and Kirkland v. R.J. Reynolds

CVN webcast Weick v. Phillip Morris  live.