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R.J. Reynolds Prevails on Key Issues in Landmark Tobacco Case

Tobacco manufacturers notched a key win in the largest Louisiana tobacco lawsuit to go to trial when the jurors rejected plaintiffs' claims for medical monitoring and design defect.

"This is a huge victory for the tobacco defendants," said Stone Pigman lawyer and R.J. Reynolds counsel Phillip A. Wittmann. "The verdict showed the jury didn't buy either the proposed medical monitoring or the claim that the cigarettes at issue in the case were defectively designed."

Although the plaintiffs are claiming victory in regards to smoking cessation assistance, the tobacco companies are pleased that the judge has ruled the related claims to be an individual issue, thus making it difficult for the plaintiffs to prevail on a class-action basis.

"I don't think they can establish entitlement to smoking cessation on a class-wide basis, so we are very pleased with the jury's verdict," said Mr. Wittmann.

Stone Pigman is co-counsel with Cleveland-based Jones Day to defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The first phase of the trial for the class action lawsuit began on January 21 and culminated in the jury's response on July 28. The second and third phases, relating to the smoking cessation programs, will follow.

Founded in 1929, Stone Pigman has earned its reputation representing national, regional and local businesses in a full range of litigation and business matters, including corporate, securities, real estate, intellectual property, health care, tax and estate planning.

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