Each Friday we highlight the week's Engle progeny tobacco trials and look ahead to next week.
Cory Hohnbaum argues in closing that Paul Baum, the deceased smoker at the center of this Engle progeny tobacco case, never actually had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, despite multiple reports diagnosing Baum with the condition. The jury ultimately agreed, rendering a verdict for the defense. Click here to view the clip.
Verdict: For the defense.
After less than a full day of deliberations, the jury found Paul Baum, the deceased smoker at the center of the suit, did not have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which was a prerequisite to plaintiff Rachel Baum's proceeding as part of the Engle class.
The defense this week focused on refuting plaintiff's evidence that Baum's respiratory condition was actually COPD, despite that diagnosis from multiple physicians. On Wednesday, a radiologist, Dr. Timothy Cole told jurors how CT scans of Baum's trachea showed tell-tale signs of relapsing polychondritis, a rare cartilage disease, rather than COPD. During closing arguments, defense attorney Cory Hohnbaum reminded jurors that only 10 of 29 pulmonologists that saw Baum specifically diagnosed him with COPD. "If that's the game for them," Hohnbaum said, "the fact of the matter is, 19 didn't use that term."
The shortened holiday week opened with testimony in plaintiff's case concerning tobacco industry efforts to hide the dangers of cigarettes and the addictiveness of nicotine. Dr. Marvin Goldberg, an expert on marketing, spent two days testifying on tobacco marketing efforts, including in television and other media, as well as the industry's marketing to teenagers through group psychology tactics. "(T)he non-smoker... looks at (smokers) and says 'Hey, these guys look cool,' because of the images on TV," Goldberg said.
Later, James Figlar, vice president of cigarette product development at R.J. Reynolds, testified to the company's knowledge of the addictiveness of smoking and its public acknowledgement in 2000 that smoking caused cancer, but disputed that the company "knew" smoking caused cancer prior to that date. "It's not like germ theory where, you get a bug and you're going to get sick. Chronic diseases are much more complicated, so you're always talking in terms of probabilities," Figlar said.
Ken Ellis's suit stems from his mother's death at 57 from lung cancer. Ellis claims R.J. Reynolds is responsible for her addiction to cigarettes that ultimately led to her death.
Next week: Proceedings will continue at 9 a.m. Monday.