The judge in a landmark cigarette liability case should grant a partial new trial because the jury granted damages to a lung-cancer victim's widower, and not the victim herself, plaintiff's attorneys say.
Lawyers for Rose Cipollone's widower want a new trial on the part of the jury's verdict that granted $400,000 in damages to the Lakehurst man, but not a penny on behalf of Mrs. Cipollone's suffering and death.Arguments came in papers delivered to the court late Wednesday.
The $400,000 was granted based on the finding that the Liggett Group Inc. - maker of the L&M and Chesterfield brands Mrs. Cipollone smoked before 1966 - violated its advertising promises to make a safe product.
Liggett, Philip Morris Inc. and Lorillard Inc. were cleared of conspiring to misrepresent smoking's dangers in the four-and-a-half-month trial that ended June 13.
Mr. Cipollone's attorneys also seek a tripling of the damages award, attorneys' fees, costs and the money Mrs. Cipollone spent on Liggett-made cigarettes during 40 years of smoking.
Such increases are allowed under New Jersey consumer fraud law. The judge in the case had refused to allow the jury to consider that issue.
Attorney Alan Darnell, representing Antonio Cipollone, said the jury should have been allowed to consider the state fraud law in granting damages.
In the court papers, Mr. Darnell said Liggett's advertising constituted an unconscionable commercial practice, and entitled Mr. Cipollone to damages under the state law.
Finally, Mr. Darnell moved to have $223,237.29 added to the award as interest on the $400,000 that he said Mr. Cipollone was owed since the complaint was filed Aug. 1, 1983.