On May 26, a Worcester (MA) Superior Court jury ruled in favor of Goodwin Procter client Philip Morris USA in a suit alleging Marlboro cigarettes were defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous.
The survivors of deceased smoker Stephen Haglund went to trial on a claim that Philip Morris breached an implied warranty by failing to market no-nicotine cigarettes. Philip Morris countered that Haglund understood the risks of smoking and that the “proposed nicotine-free cigarette[s] would be unacceptable to a vast majority of smokers.”
In his opening statement, Goodwin partner Paul F. Ware, representing Philip Morris, said the technology available in the 1960’s known as “solvent extraction,” did not remove all nicotine from cigarettes and, more importantly, did not remove any of the carcinogens to make cigarettes safer.
Ware said that Philip Morris spent large sums of money over the years developing and promoting various brands of low-nicotine cigarettes, but that they were all commercial failures.
After three days of deliberations, the jury found that, while Haglund may have become addicted as a result of smoking Marlboros, those cigarettes were not defectively designed.
In responding to the plaintiffs’ loss, Mr. Ware said: “These are always difficult cases for a family that has sustained a loss as significant as the Haglund family, and we certainly wish them all of the best.”