$5M Verdict Hits Philip Morris in Trial Over Massachusetts Man's Throat Cancer

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Feb 23, 2023 10:30:54 AM


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Boston, MA— Jurors Friday levied a $5 million verdict against Philip Morris in finding the company and its Marlboro cigarettes responsible for the laryngeal cancer a Massachusetts man developed. Woodley v. Philip Morris, 2084-CV-01559.

The Massachusetts State Court jury issued the award to Calvin Woodley after finding Philip Morris failed to adequately warn him of the dangers of its cigarettes before July 1, 1969 and that failure led to his throat cancer. Jurors cleared the cigarette maker, and supermarket company Stop & Shop, on other claims. 

Woodley began smoking as a teenager and continued for more than 50 years. During that time, Woodley smoked multiple cigarette brands, including Philip Morris’ Marlboros, as well as brands not manufactured by the company. Although he quit smoking in 2013, he was ultimately diagnosed with throat cancer six years later. He contends Philip Morris is responsible for his cancer by failing to warn him of smoking’s risks.  


The nine-day trial turned in part on whether Philip Morris had done enough to warn him of the dangers of smoking before July 1, 1969, with jurors instructed that federal law deemed warnings adequate after that date. 

During last Friday’s closings, Shook Hardy & Bacon’s Stephanie Sankar noted warnings prior to the cutoff date contained language cautioning that “cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.” Sankar told jurors jurors Woodley testified that he had no reaction to the notice because it didn’t tell him anything he didn’t already know. 

“Philip Morris can’t have failed to warn Mr. Woodley about something he already knew,” Sankar said. 

But Woodley’s attorney, Tein | Malone’s Allan Kaiser argued that any consideration of the cautionary statement on cigarette packs was undercut by tobacco initiatives designed to cast doubt on smoking’s risks. Kaiser reminded jurors of evidence he said showed Philip Morris engaged in a multi-prong campaign to conceal the dangers of smoking, which he said was largely effective. 

“In the 60s, people still didn’t have any knowledge of cigarettes causing cancer,” Kaiser said, “especially Mr. Woodley.”

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Topics: Products Liability, tobacco, Massachusetts, Woodley v. Philip Morris