Arnold v. American Brands Inc.(Personal Injury US Dist. Ct. RI 1995 Dismissed) Citation: 956 F.Supp. 110 (26 Feb 1997)
This personal injury suit was brought by Joseph and Claudette Arnold against American Brands (voluntarily dismissed), R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, Lorillard (voluntarily dismissed) and Brown & Williamson on July 28, 1995.
The plaintiff alleged that smoking cigarettes resulted in his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The plaintiff began smoking at age 13 or 15. He was diagnosed with COPD in April, 1988. He was unable to quit, and was still smoking during his lawsuit. The plaintiff claimed strict products liability, negligence, failure to warn, willful misrepresentation, and consortium. The plaintiff claims compensatory and punitive damages.
The case was heard in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island (C.A. #95-399-L) before the Honorable Chief Judge Lagueux. On February 26, 1997, the judge (956 F.Supp. 110) granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the statute of limitations. The judge held that the statute had begun to run when the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that his injury was causally related to cigarettes, which at the latest was the day he was diagnosed with COPD. The judge refused to extend this period until the plaintiff knew or should have known of the wrongful conduct of the defendants resulting in that injury. The state statute regarding concealed actions was inapplicable, since the plaintiff knew that cigarettes were both addictive and dangerous, even if the defendant denied it.