Last week, a jury unanimously found Lorillard Tobacco Co. guilty of putting sales before consumer safety in the death of William Major, a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy. The captain’s wife, Tajie Major, was awarded a $17.7 million verdict for the wrongful death of her husband.
Mr. Major, who died of lung cancer in 1998, smoked two packs of cigarettes per day for twenty-six years. Documents as far back as the mid-1970s prove Lorillard Tobacco Co.’s researchers were aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking and the addictive nature of nicotine. Despite this knowledge, big tobacco companies such as Lorillard continued to market their products to consumers without properly warning them of the consequences to their health.
Not only were the dangers of cigarettes not made known by their manufacturers, the cigarettes themselves were widely distributed to military personnel and other American individuals, resulting in addiction, disease, and death among soldiers and regular citizens.
Mr. Gil Purcell, who represented Mrs. Major in the case, is “gratified for the jury’s efforts and determinations.” In a unanimous, 12-0 verdict, the jury found Lorillard Tobacco Co. seventeen percent liable in Mr. Major’s death.