Last Friday, a jury granted Goodwin Procter client Philip Morris USA and its co-defendants a defense verdict in a tobacco healthcare costs case that had been tried for 11 weeks in state court in St. Louis, Missouri and was closely watched by the media. Goodwin served as co-counsel for Philip Morris USA and served as lead industry counsel on the case for 10 years.
Fifty-seven hospitals in Missouri filed the suit in November 1998, seeking nearly $8 billion in compensatory damages, that allegedly represented unreimbursed costs of treating bad debt and charity care patients for smoking-related illnesses and conditions.
By trial, the motion strategy that Goodwin developed and led had whittled the case down to 37 hospitals seeking $455 million in damages on claims that cigarettes are defective products because they cause disease and contain addictive levels of nicotine.
Goodwin argued that ordinary cigarettes are not defective or negligently manufactured merely because they contain nicotine and cause disease, and that the hospitals did not actually suffer damages because, in a world without smoking, the plaintiffs would have actually made less money.
After hearing from more than 40 fact and expert witnesses, the jury deliberated for two weeks before issuing a verdict in favor of Philip Morris and the other defendants.
The trial team was led by partner Paul Nemser.