Tobacco Company Obtains Defense Verdict at Trial

West Virginia

Shook, Hardy & Bacon attorneys won a defense verdict on behalf of Philip Morris USA, Inc. in the first of a multi-phase trial, effectively terminating over 600 individual personal-injury cases.

The proceeding originated in cases filed against cigarette manufacturers, including Philip Morris USA, Inc., in five West Virginia counties. The cases were consolidated by the state’s Mass Litigation Panel and transferred to the Ohio County Circuit Court with leave given for additional suit filings. More than 1,200 cases were eventually pending at one time, and a number were dismissed before trial. When trial began, 601 cases were pending against the defendants, and Philip Morris USA, Inc. was a defendant in 346 of them. 

In the trial, Shook obtained a defense verdict as to all but one question. The findings for the defendants included whether the plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages. The jury’s single finding for the plaintiffs was whether ventilated filter cigarettes manufactured and sold between 1964 and July 1, 1969, were defective due to the defendants’ failure to instruct.

This matter is currently pending on plaintiffs’ appeal before the state’s appellate court. In re: Tobacco Litigation, 00-C-5000 (Cir. Ct. Kanawha Cnty. W. Va. 2013).