In one of the first Engle progeny tobacco trials since a landmark punitive award against cigarette manufacturers, a deceased smoker’s daughter described her father as a nicotine addict who wanted to quit smoking throughout his decades-long habit. Heather Irimi, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al.
Lisa Rodd testified that her father, Dale Moyer, “was always trying to quit smoking." “He hated it," she said. "It was nasty and dirty."
Rodd said she saw Moyer with a variety of smoking cessation aids, including nicotine gum and patches, and that he disliked how smoking affected his appearance. “He used to get his nails done to try to get rid of the stink on his fingers,” Rodd said. “He cared about his appearance and this was killing him.”
Dale Moyer, a smoker for more than 40 years, ultimately quit the habit after being diagnosed with chronic pulmonary obstructive disease in 1993. He died in 2013 after suffering from a variety of medical issues. Moyer’s family is suing R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco Co., and Liggett Group Inc., claiming Moyer's smoking caused his COPD and other health problems. They also contend tobacco manufacturers conspired to conceal the dangers of smoking and made false claims about filtered cigarettes and "light" brands to further the coverup. The suit is one of thousands of Engle progeny tobacco actions in Florida, and one of the first to be tried since a jury awarded another Engle plaintiff $23.6 billion in punitive damages in Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, et al.
During her testimony, Rodd detailed her close relationship with her father, but described him as a regular smoker throughout most of her life. Rodd said she was happy when she learned her father had begun smoking "light" cigarettes because she believed they would not be as dangerous.
“I saw it said 'Light,' and they were coming out with all these things like Diet Coke and light (products),” Rodd said. “It sounded like it was healthier for him. It would have been a healthier choice.”
Moyer’s family claims that he continued smoking because he was not fully aware of its dangers and was addicted to nicotine.
However, defendants contend Moyer knew smoking was dangerous and continued to smoke by choice rather than because of addiction. During cross-examination, Rodd acknowledged that she never saw her father throw away cigarettes in an effort to quit. She also testified that she didn't know how many times he actually used smoking cessation aids.
Like many Engle progeny suits, smoking addiction is a key issue at trial. The case arises from a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision decertifying Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., a class action tobacco suit filed in 1994. Although the state’s supreme court ruled Engle progeny suits must be tried individually, it found qualifying plaintiffs could rely on certain jury findings in the original case, including that tobacco companies conspired to hide the dangers of smoking and sold a dangerous product. However, qualifying plaintiffs must prove smoking addiction, among other elements, as part of their case.