Willie Gary tells jurors Friday that smoker Andrew Haliburton was a victim of R.J. Reynolds’s marketing tactics, which included decades of misinformation on smoking’s dangers. Gary is representing Dorothy Haliburton, who is suing the tobacco manufacturer for her husband’s COPD-related death. Jurors ultimately found the suit time-barred.
West Palm Beach, FL—R.J. Reynolds prevailed in the last Engle progeny suit of 2014 after jurors this afternoon found Dorothy Haliburton's wrongful death suit was time barred.
Jurors deliberated for more than six hours Friday before concluding that Andrew Haliburton should have known before May 5, 1990 that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that was caused by his decades of cigarette smoking.
The suit, brought by Haliburton’s widow, Dorothy, turned on when Haliburton developed COPD, a progressive respiratory disease, and whether he should have connected the disease’s symptoms with his cigarette smoking. Haliburton was diagnosed with COPD in 1994 and died of complications related to the disease four years later. However, the defense contended that Haliburton developed COPD before the May 5, 1990 Engle claim bar date. On Monday, pulmonologist Dr. Leonard Cosmo testified that the severity of Haliburton’s COPD by his diagnosis in 1994 was a tell-tale sign that he had suffered from the disease prior to 1990. “It’s impossible to start in 1990 without COPD, then go through a mild stage, a moderate stage and a severe stage in four years,” Cosmo said.
That testimony, and evidence concerning the persistence of Haliburton's COPD symptoms, likely swayed the jury's decision.
The case marks the last Engle trial of the year. Edward Caprio v. Philip Morris, et al. is scheduled to begin on January 19, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale.
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