Woburn, MA— Jurors previewed evidence surrounding what drove a Massachusetts woman's smoking decisions, as trial opened last week against R.J. Reynolds over her lung cancer death. Hunt v. R.J. Reynolds, 1881-CV-00446.
Mary Hunt smoked her first cigarette as a teenager in the early 1960s and continued smoking for decades, favoring Kent-brand filtered cigarettes. She ultimately quit smoking around 2013. However, doctors diagnosed her with lung cancer in 2015, and she ultimately died of the disease later that year.
Hunt’s family contends Reynolds, which now owns Kent’s original manufacturer, Lorillard Tobacco Company, is responsible for Hunt’s death through efforts to conceal the dangers of smoking through much of the latter half of the 20th century.
During openings last Wednesday, the Hunt family’s attorney, Andrew Rainer, of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, contrasted ads he said touted Kent’s filtered cigarettes as safer alternatives to unfiltered brands with internal documents showing tobacco executives knew filtered cigarettes did not prevent smoking-related disease.
“They understood the image of safety,” Rainer said. “They sold the image of safety when they knew it didn’t protect smokers at all.”
But Reynolds argues there is no proof Hunt was swayed by tobacco industry messaging, and the company contends she chose to smoke despite knowing the dangers of cigarettes. During openings last week, Jones Day’s Emily Baker told jurors Hunt was warned throughout her life about the risks of smoking, through news reports, family members, and other sources.
“The evidence will be that Mrs. Hunt had all the information she needed that smoking was dangerous,” Baker said. “And you won’t hear any evidence that she was paying attention to what tobacco company executives or tobacco organizations were saying about the health risks. There’s no evidence of that.”
Trial in the case is expected to run into next week.
Email Arlin Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not a subscriber?