Mesothelioma Suit Over Cigarette Filters Results in $1.4M Verdict

A product liability lawsuit brought against a tobacco company that used asbestos in its cigarette filters has resulted in a $1.4 million verdict for the a smoker who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. 

According to allegations raised in the suit, Don Lenney, 73, smoked Kent cigarettes during the 1950s, not knowing that they contained asbestos or that there were dangers associated with asbestos exposure.

At the time, the Kent cigarette Micronite filters were billed as a health asset to smokers by the manufacturer, and defendant in Lenney’s lawsuit, Lorillard Tobacco Co. The company that manufactured the filters themselves, Hollingsworth & Vose, was also a defendant in the mesothelioma suit.

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.

Lenney, who quit smoking in 1965, has already had a lung removed due to damage from mesothelioma.

At trial, defendants argued that the filters were safe and said that there is no proof that Lenney contracted mesothelioma from their products. However a San Francisco Superior Court jury disagreed and determined earlier this month that Lorillard was 35% at fault for Lenney’s mesothelioma and Hollingsworth was 25% at fault due to negligence. According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, the companies have indicated they will appeal the verdict.

Mesothelioma cancer is found in the lining of the chest and lungs, and is only known to occur as a result of exposure to asbestos. The disease has a very long latency period and is often not discovered until decades after exposure, leading to a limited life expectancy after a mesothelioma diagnosis.

Asbestos was widely used throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s, but given the long period of time that usually passes between exposure and diagnosis, the number of mesothelioma deaths has continued to rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lawsuits over mesothelioma from asbestos exposure are the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first case 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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