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New York Supreme Court Hears Tobacco Injury Case


In this particular case being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in New York County, the plaintiffs are seeking to recover for personal injuries as a result of smoking tobacco. The defendants in the case have moved for summary judgment to dismiss the fraud, failure to warn, and design defect claims being made against them.

Case Background

The plaintiffs in this case are seeking to recover for personal injuries including permanent neurological damage and lung cancer allegedly sustained by the plaintiff as a result of use of cigarettes that are manufactured and sold by the defendants. The plaintiff alleges that she started smoking when she was a teenager during the 1940s. By the time she turned 20 she was smoking a pack a day.

The plaintiff alleges that she tried to quit several times during the 1970s, but was addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes and was unsuccessful in the attempts. The plaintiff finally quit smoking in 1993. In March of 1995, the plaintiff was diagnosed with lung cancer and paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration. She was cured of lung cancer later during the same year, but continues to suffer from paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration.

The plaintiff alleges that cigarettes are a defective product and not safe to be used as intended because when they are used they are both addictive and carcinogenic. The plaintiffs further allege that the defendants knew of the health hazards of using their products and concealed these hazards from the public during the time that she was a smoker.

In the amended verified complaint the plaintiffs assert causes of action against the defendants for failure to warn consumers about the dangers of using their products before 1969. They also accuse the defendants of fraud, deceit, negligent misrepresentation, negligent and defective design, breach of express warranty, and loss of consortium on behalf of the plaintiffs husband.

The defendants have issued three separate motions in the case seeking summary judgment in their favor. The defendants are using a variety of ground to support dismissal of the complaint including failure to demonstrate reasonable reliance on the alleged fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions and preemption claims that occurred after the first of July, 1969 when the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act was amended.

Case Discussion and Decision

There is several tobacco companies involved in this case as the plaintiff claims to have smoked several different brands during different times in her life. The manufacturers of the cigarettes are all seeking to have the case dismissed based on the laws that were established in 1969.

The court has agreed on several of the counts and allegations against the defendants and is granting summary judgment in regard to the claims of fraud and concealment that occurred after the year 1969. The branches of the motion for summary judgment in regard to implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose that came after the first of July in 1969 are granted as well.

All of the other issues of the case will be submitted for trial.

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