|Jump to full article: Bloomberg News, 2002-11-19|
Author: William McQuillen
Philip Morris Cos. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc. are back in a California courtroom, trying to end a tobacco industry West Coast losing streak in lawsuits by smokers.
A state court jury in Sacramento, California, is hearing testimony in Laurence Lucier's bid for damages from the two leading U.S. tobacco companies. Lucier, 52, a cancer victim who had his first cigarette at age 8, accuses the companies of fraud by hiding the health risks of cigarettes and negligence in selling a dangerous product. . .
In the Lucier case, lawyers began opening statements before Judge Steven Rodda and a 12-member jury earlier this month. Nine jurors must agree to reach a verdict.
Lucier, who smoked Philip Morris's Benson & Hedges and R.J. Reynolds's Winston brand cigarettes, was diagnosed with cancer in June 1999. He filed suit in San Francisco in June 2000. At the companies' request, the court moved the case to Sacramento where he lives. Lucier seeks unspecified damages; his wife also claims damage to their marriage.
In opening statements, Gary Paul, Lucier's attorney, said the companies continue to target children as potential customers, the Sacramento Bee reported. . .
The cigarette makers say Lucier had long been aware of the health risks of smoking and chose to smoke anyway. He didn't rely on any alleged industry misrepresentations when deciding to smoke, the companies say.
They also claim that Lucier, a former accountant, doesn't have lung cancer.
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