Barbara Lourie’s “heavy history of smoking” likely caused her fatal lung cancer, a pathologist and cancer specialist testified yesterday in James Lourie’s Engle progeny tobacco suit. James Lourie v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
Dr. Luis Villa, a pathology expert in Miami, told jurors that, although not all smokers develop lung cancer, “The more you smoke, the more you’re likely to get a malignancy.” Given Lourie’s 40 years of smoking and the type of cancer she was diagnosed with, Villa said it was “more likely than not” that her smoking caused her cancer.
James Lourie is suing R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, claiming that their concealment of smoking’s dangers caused Barabara to become addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes that caused her to develop cancer.
Although Lourie ultimately died in 1997 from a perforated intestine, Villa said that was a complication stemming from her lung cancer and the treatment that weakened her immune system. “Everything is related to the metastatic carcinoma of the lung,” Villa said.
However, the defense contends that there is insufficient medical evidence to link smoking to Barbara Lourie’s cancer, and maintains that her cancer likely metastasized in her lung after developing elsewhere in her body. Under cross examination, Villa acknowledged that many important medical records surrounding Barbara Lourie’s cancer diagnosis and treatment were unavailable, including CT scans and X-rays of the tumor. Villa, who never personally treated Barabra Lourie, also acknowledged that the records that were available contained inconsistencies as to her cancer's progression and type. For example, one note refers to Lourie’s cancer as a “metastatic breast carcinoma,” which Villa termed a “typo” by the reporting physician.
However, despite missing records and inconsistencies, Villa testified that he believed the medical evidence available was sufficient to diagnose Lourie with smoking-related lung cancer.
“Her life came to an end because of cancer of the lung,” he said.
Plaintiff's case-in-chief is expected to continue into next week.