Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins complete defense verdict in Massachusetts consumer fraud lawsuit

Clients R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On March 17, 2022, a judge in Barnstable, Massachusetts issued a ruling that resulted in a complete defense victory for Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a smoking-and-health case. The ruling comes after a multi-week bench trial in September and October of 2021. Before trial, Jones Day successfully obtained judgment on the pleadings for all jury-triable claims, which included common-law tort and warranty claims.

The plaintiff's sole remaining consumer fraud claim encompassed allegations that Reynolds's cigarettes were defectively designed and that Reynolds conspired with other tobacco manufacturers to conceal the health risks and addictive nature of cigarettes. The smoker in the case began smoking around age 16 and died at age 63 of lung cancer. He left behind a spouse, who—after the dismissal of the wrongful-death claims—asserted the consumer fraud claim on her late husband's behalf to recover for his pain and suffering, as well as for enhanced damages. The Court denied relief in whole, finding that the consumer fraud claim was barred by the applicable statute of limitations.

Mary Fuller v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 1672-CV-00154 (Super. Ct. Barnstable Cty., Mass.)