1983 - Rose Cipollone and Judge Lee Sarokin

Rose Cipollone was 57 years old and dying of lung cancer when she filed a product liability suit against three cigarette makers - Liggett Group, Philip Morris and Lorillard. Cipollone had averaged a pack and a half a day since she was 16 years old and was accusing the tobacco companies of failing to warn her adequately of the potential lethal effects of cigarettes and their addictive nature.

Cipollone died in October 1994, but her lawyer Marc Edell pursued the lawsuit.

District court judge Lee Sarokin presided over the case and ruled a number of times to open up the discovery process. The documents obtained represented the first glimpse by an outsider into the internal documents of the tobacco companies.

Judge Lee Sarokin ruled that Liggett was to pay $400,000 in damages to Cipollone's family - the first time a tobacco company had to pay damages to the family of a stricken smoker. Liggett was held to have been negligent for its failure to warn smokers properly of the health risks prior to 1966 and for advertising that could be interpreted as a warranty for safety. Philip Morris and Lorillard were let off completely because Cipollone had started smoking these brands after the warnings began in 1966.

Sarokin's opinion in this case, and in the Haines case, were extremely critical of the tobacco companies and formed the basis for a Justice Department investigation.


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