Oregon jurors on Feb. 19 cleared R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. of responsibility for the terminal lung cancer Patricia Rickman developed after decades of smoking the company’s cigarettes, reports the Courtroom View Network.
The case, Rickman v. R.J. Reynolds, turned in part on whether tobacco industry messaging swayed Rickman’s smoking decisions. Rickman claims that Reynolds’s participation in a decades-long campaign to misrepresent the health effects of smoking ultimately caused her cancer.
Reynolds countered that Rickman smoked despite knowing the dangers of cigarettes. Representing Reynolds, attorney Steven Geise told jurors Rickman began smoking years after mandatory warnings went onto cigarette packs and continued despite widespread information concerning smoking’s dangers.
The evidence, Geise said, undercut Rickman’s contention that she did not believe smoking was dangerous until about 2015. “It stretches the bounds of reason,” Geise said, “to think that somebody could go into the 2010s and not have any idea that cigarette smoking was bad.”
The plaintiff’s attorney had requested up to $12.7 million for Rickman plus loss-of-consortium damages for her husband and a finding that punitive damages were warranted.