Reese v. RJR Tobacco Trial Begins

Posted by msch on May 9, 2011 9:38:00 AM

Jeffrey Sloman and Benjamine ReidReese v. R.J. Reynolds (Miami, Florida).

Julie Reese had her first cigarette in 1939 at age 10, and was a pack-a-day smoker of Camel and Kool cigarettes by the time she was 16. In 1994 she was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and COPD.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Jeffrey Sloman of the Ferraro Law Firm told the jury in his opening statement, "This case is about Reynolds' choice to conceal the truth about the health effects and addictive nature of smoking while simultaneously reassuring Julie that there was nothing to these rumors, that the science wasn't clear, and that nothing had been proven. This case is about their choice to blame Julie in this courtroom for her choices when they have privately admitted that they can't defend continued smoking as free choice if the smoker was addicted."

Mr. Sloman continued, "This case is also about how those choices have tarnished what should have been her golden years...and failing to recognize the difference between just being alive and living the life she had earned. Reynolds has always been in the nicotine delivery business. They made it as easy as possible to start, and as hard as possible to stop. And that was their recipe for success."

Representing R.J. Reynolds, Carlton Fields' Ben Reid told the jury that Julie Reese's "claim is that she didn't know about the harm, and that if she had known cigarettes were risky or cigarettes were potentially dangerous she would have made a different decision. That's what she has to prove in this case."

"The main thing to keep in mind about nicotine," said Mr. Reid, "is that it does not cloud your ability to read warnings, to understand what you are doing. It does not affect your mental processes." Moreover, said Mr. Reid, "when you stop smoking, in 72 hours there is no more nicotine in your system. It goes away...If you have withdrawal...those symptoms tend to go away somewhere between three and 14 days...There is an effect somewhere on the receptors in your brain, and in about six weeks even those are back to completely normal as if you did not smoke."

"The problem in this case is that in all the years of smoking that you heard about, there were only three or four times that Ms. Reese made the decision to try to quit. And she never quit long enough...for all this to happen," said Mr. Reid. "Sixty million people quit long enough for this to happen. And Ms. Reese never even tried. Because she didn't want to."

CVN webcast the Julie Reese tobacco trial live.

Topics: Toxic Torts, Reese v. RJR, Products Liability, Engle Progeny, Tobacco Litigation