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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.— (Mealey’s) The daughter of a deceased smoker testified in a wrongful death action in Florida’s 17th Judicial Court for Broward County Florida on Aug. 20 that her father was unable to quit smoking because he was addicted to cigarettes (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 view a video excerpt of Lisa Rodd’s testimony).
Under questioning on cross-examination by David Batista of Greenberg Traurig in Fort Lauderdale, representing Lorillard Tobacco Co., on the question of whether her father, Dale Moyer, was addicted to cigarettes, Lisa Rodd admitted that she never observed him “crumple up a pack of cigarettes and throw them away.” Rodd testified further that she could not attest to how many times he had tried to quit smoking or whether his attempts to quit using gum and patches altered the number of cigarettes he smoked on a daily basis.
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 ddiction 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.
Rodd also testified, under questioning by Kevin Boyce of Jones Day in Cleveland, representing R.J. Reynolds, about her father’s smoking while driving to vacations, including a trip to tour an R.J. Reynolds manufacturing facility at which he was given free cigarettes.
On re-direct questioning by Steven Hammer of the Law Offices of Sheldon J. Schlesinger in Fort Lauderdale, representing the family, Rodd testified about her father’s final days. “It was horrible,” she said. She also testified about her confusion about the cause of death listed on her father’s death certificate: metastatic cancer of unknown primary. “It made no sense,” she said. She said further that the family decided to continue her father’s suit after his death “for him. He felt like he was fooled. Like he was tricked.”
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. Judge John Murphy is presiding.
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. In addition to Batista, Lorillard is represented by David M. Woods of Hughes Hubbard in Kansas City, Mo. In addition to Boyce, Reynolds is represented by Bradley Harrison of Jones Day in Cleveland. Liggett is represented by Maria Ruiz of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in Miami.
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