Los Angeles Asbestos Lawsuit Ends in Defense Verdict

A Los Angeles jury has rejected a claim by a former smoker that a tobacco company should be held liable in a mesothelioma lawsuit filed over the use of asbestos filters on cigarettes during the 1950s.

The asbestos lawsuit was brought by Robert Cox against Lorillard, which manufactured Kent cigarettes. Cox was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2008 and claimed that Lorillard designed a defective cigarette due to the inclusion of the asbestos filters, and failed to warn users of asbestos health risks.

After an eight-week trial, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury concluded on January 19, that Lorillard was not liable and did not have to warn Cox about the risks associated with asbestos filters. According to a report by The Recorder, the decision was based on expert witness testimony regarding the prevalence of asbestos use in the 1950s and what was believed, at the time, regarding its safety. The defense was banned from presenting evidence that demonstrated the amount of asbestos that could enter the lungs from use of the filters.

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Lorillard has successfully defended itself over the use of the asbestos cigarette filters in six lawsuits filed since 2000.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lung. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and it is often not diagnosed for 20 to 40 years after exposure. As a result of the long latency period, the cancer is very advanced when it is diagnosed and life expectancy with the disease is limited.

Asbestos litigation is the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first asbestos exposure lawsuit filed in 1929. Over 600,000 people have filed lawsuits against 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases.

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