Rose Defrancesco Cipollone

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This article is part of the Tobacco portal on Sourcewatch funded from 2006 - 2009 by the American Legacy Foundation.

Rose Defrancesco Cipollone and her family were the plaintiffs in the first successful personal injury lawsuit ever against a tobacco company.

Rose D. Cipollone


Rose D. Cipollone began smoking in 1942, when she was 16 years old. She smoked an average of a pack and a half a day after that time. She was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 1983, when she was 57 years old. In August of 1983, she filed a product liability lawsuit against three cigarette makers: Philip Morris, the Liggett Group and Lorillard. She accused the defendant tobacco companies of failing to warn her adequately of the potential lethal effects of cigarettes and their addictive nature. Mrs. Cipollone died in October 1984, but her lawyer, Marc Z. Edell pursued the lawsuit. After negotiations, Loew's Theatres was substituted as a defendant for Lorillard. When Lorillard became a subsidiary of Loews Corporation, Lorillard, Inc. was substituted as the defendant. After Mrs. Cipollone died in October 1984, her husband, Antonio, continued the Suit. The case came to trial 4 1/2 years after it was filed, and the jury ruled in favor of the defendants on each claim submitted to it except the express warranty claim against Liggett. Many claims were eliminated through pretrial motions. On the express warranty claim, the jury awarded Antonio Cipollone $400,000. No damages were awarded to Mrs. Cipollone's estate. While the award was relatively small, and many of the plaintiff's initial claims were eliminated, the most important feature of the case was that it was the first time a cigarette cigarette manufacturer was held liable for damages to a lung cancer victim's family. The case was also important because District Court Judge Hadden Lee Sarokin, who presided over the case, ruled a number of times to open up the discovery process, and the resulting documents obtained represented the first glimpse by an outsider into the internal documents of the tobacco companies.

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