Litigation

Deceased Smoker’s Daughter Testifies About His Smoking In Florida Wrongful Death Case (Watch The Video)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla — (Mealey’s) The daughter of a deceased smoker testified in a wrongful death action in state court Aug. 19 that her father “was always smoking” and “was always trying to quit” (Heather Irimi, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-026337, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

(Click here to see a video excerpt of Lisa Rodd’s testimony.) 

Direct Examination 

Responding to questioning on direct examination by plaintiff attorney Steven Hammer of the Law Offices of Sheldon J. Schlesinger in Fort Lauderdale about her memories of her father, Dale Moyer, and smoking, Lisa Rodd said, “It goes hand in hand.  He was always smoking.  There’s no memories that I have of him not smoking.”   

The suit alleges that Moyer developed adenocarcinoma of the lung, emphysema and heart disease as a result of smoking cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Liggett Group.  Moyer, who was born in 1929, began smoking at age 8 and eventually smoked up to three packs a day.  Moyer originally filed suit in 2008; his daughters, Rodd, Heather Irimi and Dawn Mumtaz were substituted as plaintiffs following his death in March 2013.  The family alleges that Moyer was addicted to cigarettes and that his addiction resulted in his death from cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  The tobacco companies contend that Moyer was not addicted to their products and is “100 percent responsible” for his death. 

‘Smoking All The Time’ 

Rodd described a number of occasions on which she witnessed her father smoking, including during professional hockey games, family gatherings, trips to the drive-in movies and her softball games.  “Everybody was smoking.  It was normal.  I didn’t think anything of it.  I remember my Dad smoking in the car all the time.”  Moyer carried portable bean-bag ashtrays everywhere, she said.  “He was smoking all the time.”  

She testified further about her father’s home office, saying “He was in that office a lot, writing orders, smoking.  It was gross; it was nasty.  We didn’t want to go in there.”  

Asked how she felt about her father’s smoking, Rodd said, “I hated it.  It was gross.  It was nasty.  His fingers were yellow.  He hated it.  He used to go and get manicures and try to get rid of the stink on his fingers.”  

Rodd also testified about an incident in 1995 when her father experienced an episode of severe shortness of breath.  “That was very scary because I had no idea what was going on,” she said.

Engle 

The case is part of the Engle class action, which was decertified after trial by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.  Class members were permitted to pursue individual claims using factual findings from the trial (Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 [Fla. 2006] [enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers]). 

Trial of the case got under way on Aug. 8 and is expected to take several weeks. 

In addition to Hammer, the family is represented by Scott Schlesinger and Jonathan Gdanski of the Law Offices of Sheldon J. Schlesinger in Fort Lauderdale.  Lorillard is represented by David M. Woods of Hughes Hubbard in Kansas City, Mo., and David Batista of Greenberg Traurig in Fort Lauderdale.  Reynolds is represented by Kevin Boyce and Bradley Harrison of Jones Day in Cleveland.   Liggett is represented by Maria Ruiz of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in Miami.

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