New York, October 10, 2012 – Hughes Hubbard & Reed announced today that clients Lorillard Tobacco Company and Hollingsworth & Vose Co. (H&V) won a lawsuit brought in California state court by plaintiffs’ counsel, The Lanier Law Firm, on behalf of a California man who claimed that his mesothelioma was caused by asbestos released from the filter in original Kent cigarettes, which were manufactured for a limited time in the 1950s (Dimitris O. Couscouris et al v. Hatch Grinding Wheels et al). At trial, Lorillard was represented by Ricardo Cedillo of Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza, and Rick Shackelford of Greenberg Traurig. James Berger of Hughes Hubbard and Timothy Johnston of Nutter, McClennen & Fish represented H&V at trial.
Plaintiffs Dimitris O. Couscouris and Magdalena Couscouris filed their case in Superior Court in Los Angeles and obtained a preferential trial date. At trial, eight product liability claims went to the jury against Lorillard and four claims went to the jury against H&V. Plaintiffs requested $769,529 in economic damages, plus unspecified non-economic damages and damages for loss of consortium. The plaintiffs also asked the jury to determine whether they were entitled to punitive damages against Lorillard.
Dimitris Couscouris was diagnosed with mesothelioma in early 2011, and sued Lorillard, H&V and several other companies in December 2011. Lorillard and H&V were the only remaining defendants at trial.
Trial began on September 4, 2012 and ended October 4. After deliberating just under three hours, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict, rejecting plaintiffs’ claims and finding that Dimitris Couscouris had failed to prove that he smoked original Kent cigarettes.
“This was a hard-fought case against an experienced and aggressive law firm in a difficult jurisdiction,” said John Reilly, Associate General Counsel, Litigation with Lorillard. “We are pleased that the jury correctly and fairly evaluated the evidence and sided with the defense.”