Friday, May 19, 2006

Tobacco Litigation

In the case of Haglund v. Phillip Morris, the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday ruled that the fact that a smoker knew that cigarettes were dangerous but smoked anyway does not constitute an "unreasonable" use of the product under Correia v. Firestone Tire and Rubber Co., 388 Mass. 342 (1983) and thus cannot serve as a defense for the tobacco company. The opinion says, in part, "the Correia defense presumes that the product at issue is, in normal circumstances, reasonably safe and capable of being reasonably safely used, and therefore that the consumer's unreasonable use of the product he knows to be defective and dangerous is appropriately penalized. Here, however, both Philip Morris and the plaintiff agree that cigarette smoking is inherently dangerous and that there is no such thing as a safe cigarette. Because no cigarette can be safely used for its ordinary purpose, smoking, there can be no nonunreasonable use of cigarettes. Thus the Correia defense, which serves to deter unreasonable use of products in a dangerous and defective state, will, in the usual course, be inapplicable." More information is available at Mass. Law About Smoking.