Willis v. R.J. Reynolds


04/16/10 – 04/16/10


Willis v. Reynolds is an Engle-progeny tobacco trial against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. The case was originally tried in April and May of 2010, but ended in a mistrial after the jury had deliberated for several days. The retrial was completed in October, 2010.

In the proceedings, plaintiff Jimmie Willis alleged Philip Morris Tobacco Co, Lorillard Tobacco Co and R J Reynolds of fraudulent concealment of dangers of smoking cigarettes manufactured by the companies, which led him to get addicted to smoking at an early age. Mr. Willis also alleged the companies of manufacturing defective cigarettes, which caused him laryngeal cancer. After Mr. Willis was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, his larynx was removed, and he was able to breathe and speak only through a hole in his throat. Mr. Willis was subsequently diagnosed with bladder cancer and small cell lung cancer.

In the original trial, plaintiff attorney Hendrik Uiterwyk told the jury that Jimmy Willis was "enticed by the ads of the defendants and got caught up in the addiction process because of the manipulation of the product and the manipulation of the minds by these defendants."

For the defense, Shook Hardy Bacon's Walter Cofer argued that although getting cancer gave Mr. Willis the will to quit, Mr. Willis knew smoking was dangerous in the 1960s, and was not truly motivated to quit until it was too late. Mr. Willis' prior quit attempts, Mr. Cofer suggested, were not serious.

The plaintiff was represented by attorney Hendrik Uiterwyk. The defense in this case comprised of Philip Morris Tobacco Co, Lorilaard Tobacco Co and RJ Reynolds. Philip Morris Tobacco Co was represented by attorneys Walter Cofer, Bonnie Dabbal and Bruce Tepikian. R J Reynolds was represented by attorneys James Johnson, John Yarber and Chris Johnson. Lorillard Tobacco Co was represented by attorney Frederick McClure.

For details about the retrial and the subsequent defense verdict, visit the CVN Blog.


Recording Disclaimer: This proceeding was recorded in parts only. Available recordings do not represent the full proceeding.

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