DeLand, FL—Attorneys Wednesday sparred over whether a Marine Corps vet was duped by tobacco marketing into a decades-long cigarette addiction that led to his lung cancer death, as trial opened against R.J. Reynolds, makers of the cigarettes the Florida man smoked. Quackenbush v. R.J. Reynolds, 2007 12188 CIDL.
"The dangers of this product—its addictive nature and its causing of lung cancer—were covered up,” Ogle Law’s William Ogle told jurors Wednesday after detailing decades of initiatives by Reynolds and others that he contended were intended to undermine the growing weight of scientific evidence on the dangers of smoking.
Ogle, representing Quackenbush’s widow Kathleen, told jurors that deception hooked Robert Quackenbush to cigarettes as a teenager and led to an addiction that last more than 20 years. Quackenbush was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997. He died, at 49, in February the following year.
During Wednesday’s openings, Ogle told jurors Quackenbush was so addicted to nicotine that he failed in multiple quit attempts, and despite using various stop-smoking aids. “Over the years he tries, and tries, and tries to quit,” Ogle said. “Kathleen says [she] never saw anyone go through such anxiety.”
However, Reynolds claims Quackenbush was not influenced by tobacco messaging in making his smoking choices. During Wednesday’s openings, Jones Day’s Kevin Murphy read from Quackenbush’s deposition, in which he says he started smoking while in Marine Corps basic training during the late 1960s because non-smokers had to perform calisthenics during smoke breaks. Murphy told jurors Quackenbush believed the Marines used the tactic to build camaraderie among its troops. “Mr. Quackenbush wasn’t influenced by ads,” Murphy said. “He was influenced by the Marine Corps and his desire to not do more calisthenics.”
Murphy contended Quackenbush, who ran cross country as a teen, knew the dangers of smoking and said he bore responsibility for his smoking decisions, including returning to cigarettes after quitting twice—in 1983 and 1990—for six months each. “Could Mr. Quackenbush quit smoking?” Murphy asked, claiming nicotine withdrawals would have completely abated within each six-month quit period. “He did quit smoking.”
Trial in the case is expected to last through next week.
Email Arlin Crisco at [email protected].
Kathleen Quackenbush is represented by Ogle Law’s William Ogle.
R.J. Reynolds is represented by Jones Day’s Dennis Murphy.
Not a subscriber?