November 26, 2012

Bay State court will hear appeal in tobacco case

The Associated Press

Willie Evans remembers the things his mother tried in order to quit smoking: the patch, the gum and even hypnotism.

Her attempts all failed. Marie Evans died of lung cancer in 2002 at the age of 54.

Willie Evans sued Lorillard Tobacco Co., arguing that the company got his mother hooked on smoking by giving away free cigarette samples to children in her Boston housing project in the 1950s and '60s.

A jury awarded $152 million in damages, an amount that was later reduced to $116 million.

Lorillard's appeal is set to go before the highest court in Massachusetts next month. The company argues that the trial judge made a series of rulings that prevented the company from getting a fair trial.

For Willie Evans, the appeal is another step in the process for finding justice for his mother.

"We think today of what our reaction would be if a tobacco company were to go into a playground and give cigarettes to kids, and we would be outraged," he said.

The company denied giving away cigarette samples to children.

In its appeal, Lorillard said it was denied a fair trial, in part because the judge allowed the jury to hear about Evans' claim that the company marketed its cigarettes to African-Americans and children.


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