December 16, 2010 - Boston, MA
For more information contact: Joanne Thorud
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Davis Malm attorneys Michael D. Weisman, Thomas Frisardi, Joshua S. Grossman, and Kendra Kinscherf have prevailed over three major law firms and Lorillard, Inc., the third largest cigarette manufacturer in the world, in winning a $152 million verdict for the estate of Marie R. Evans and her son, Willie Evans. Mrs. Evans died of lung cancer in 2002. This verdict is the largest Massachusetts verdict in 2010.
“This case is unique,” said lead counsel Michael Weisman, “as the first tobacco case in which a jury has found a tobacco company responsible for the death of a person who became addicted to smoking as a child because the company regularly distributed free samples to her.” Co-counsel Tom Frisardi said, “This is the first time a Massachusetts jury has understood that addiction is an incurable illness in some smokers.” Mrs. Evans, who gave a deposition before she died, remembered that when she was a child, Lorillard’s van was often waiting for the Orchard Park children when school let out at the end of the day. She recalled a beautiful woman distributing Newport menthol cigarettes to her and other children when she was as young as 9 years old. At first, she traded them for candy, but then, at age 13, she began smoking them. While Lorillard knew then that the product was both addictive and highly dangerous, it failed to warn Mrs. Evans or the other Roxbury children it targeted of these dangers.
The jury found Lorillard grossly negligent in designing, marketing and/or distributing its cigarettes, in failing to warn Mrs. Evans as a child, and in distributing cigarettes by giving away samples. The jury also found that Lorillard’s Newport cigarettes are defective and unreasonably dangerous. It awarded plaintiffs $71 million in compensatory damages on December 14, 2010 and, after an additional hearing on December 16, 2010, it awarded $81 in punitive damages. There is a further claim by Mrs. Evans’ estate against Lorillard for committing unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act. This claim remains pending before Judge Elizabeth Fahey.
If you would like to learn more about this precedent-setting case, below are links to recent media reports and interviews.
Big Tobacco Case Tops Year’s Largest Verdicts - Lawyers Weekly, January 24, 2011
Top Ten Jury Verdicts of 2010 - Lawyers USA, January 2011
Driving suit, a quest for justice - Boston Globe, December 18, 2010
Cigarette company ordered to pay $152M in damages over smoking wrongful death - Fox News Boston, December 17, 2010
Landmark decision forces Lorillard cigarettes to pay $152 million - New England Cable News Network, December 17, 2010
Tobacco Lawsuit Win Fulfills Mother’s Wishes, Son Says - WBUR, December 17, 2010
Lorillard ordered to pay $81m penalty - Boston Globe, December 17, 2010
Smoker’s suit wins award of $71m - Boston Globe, December 15, 2010
About Davis, Malm & D'Agostine, P.C.
Founded in 1979, Davis Malm is a premier mid-sized, full-service New England firm. The firm provides sophisticated, cost-effective legal representation to local, national, and international public and private businesses, institutions, and individuals in a wide spectrum of industries. The attorneys at the firm practice at the top level of the profession and deliver successful results to clients through direct partner involvement, responsive client service, and practical and creative problem solving.
This case is unique, said lead counsel Michael Weisman, as the first tobacco case in which a jury has found a tobacco company responsible for the death of a person who became addicted to smoking as a child because the company regularly distributed free samples to her.