Seventh West Coast Trial Against Tobacco Companies Begins in Sacramento
Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds "defrauded the public," hid the "addictive and cancer-causing effects of smoking" and "targeted the nation's youths as prime customers," according to opening arguments made yesterday in a Sacramento smoker's lawsuit against the companies, the Sacramento Bee reports. Laurence Lucier, a smoker diagnosed with lung cancer, is suing the companies for an "unspecified amount" of general and punitive damages in Sacramento Superior Court. The case comes one month after a jury ordered Philip Morris to pay another California smoker diagnosed with lung cancer $28 billion in punitive damages, the largest punitive award to an individual in U.S. history. Lucier claims the companies are liable for negligence, making false representations and fraudulent concealment. R.J. Reynolds attorney Theodore Grossman said that the tobacco company does not question the health risks associated with cigarettes; however, he said the case is about "personal choice." Grossman said, "Lucier is a bright and educated man. He was warned of the risks. He made a choice. He did what he liked to do." He added that "society has chosen to allow people to smoke if they wish," the Bee reports. Lucier's lawsuit is the seventh West Coast case to go to trial. The previous six cases resulted in multimillion dollar losses for cigarette companies, the Bee reports. The current case is expected to last about one month (Coronado, Sacramento Bee, 11/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.