Between 1964 and 1987, almost eight hundred cases made it to various Courts of Appeals throughout the United States that sought to hold tobacco companies liable for damages resulting from smoking. The tobacco lawyers protected the interests of Philip Morris USA, Brown & Williamson, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard by raising Rule 8 affirmative defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of the risk–arguing that tobacco consumers had a duty not to smoke if they wanted to protect their health, and they abandoned this responsibility by willingly smoking despite knowledge of the health hazards.
The tobacco industry had some merit to its claim that the American public was on notice about the risks of tobacco smoking. In 1964, the Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon Rule released a study noting that cigarette smokers had a 70% increased chance of premature mortality compared to non-smokers. And heavy smokers, … Read the rest of this article!