Horowitz

Horowitz

Milton Horowitz
v Lorillard

Superior Court of the State of California in and for the City and County of San Francisco, Department X-5
The Honorable Winton McKibben presiding

Filed 1994

Verdict for the Plaintiff

 

The Micronite case

Milton Horowitz, a clinical psychologist, contracted a rare and fatal case of mesothelioma (a cancer caused by asbestos) after smoking Kent cigarettes from 1952 until 1956. Kent’s famous “Micronite Filter” contained blue asbestos, the most carcinogenic variety during the time period Dr. Horowitz smoked them.

On December 30, 1997, Lorillard Tobacco Company paid over $1.5 million to the family of Milton Horowitz, marking the first time a U.S. cigarette maker ever paid a smoking‐related personal injury claim.

Plaintiff attorneys: Madelyn J. Chaber, Harry F. Wartnick, Dan Childs, Tom Johnson

Timeline

  • 1994 – October: Complaint filed
  • 1995 – August 9: Trial – opening statements
  • 1995 – August: Closing arguments
  • 1995 – September 1: Verdict for the Plaintiff, punitive damages
  • 1995 – Judge issues final judgment
  • 1997 – August 12: Favorable ruling from California appeals court
  • 1997 – November 12: California Supreme Court denies defendants’ petition for review
  • 1997 – December 30: Lorillard pays

Narrative

“This personal injury law suit was brought in 1994 by Milton J. Horowitz, Ph.D., and Shirley Horowitz against Raybestos-Manhattan, Lorillard and Hollingsworth & Vose. The plaintiffs alleged that the Crocodilite asbestos used in the Micronite filter in Kent cigarettes caused Milton Horowitz’s mesothelioma, a tumor caused by asbestos. They alleged that the defendants held Kent cigarettes out as health protection when they knew the health risks of asbestos. They knew that the asbestos came out of the filter when smoked.”

“The plaintiffs claimed product liability through defective design and failure to warn, fraud, misrepresentation and acting in conscious disregard of public health and safety. The plaintiffs sought damages for $240,000 in lost income as a psychotherapist, $150,000 in medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and punitive damages for the conscious disregard of public health and safety and for fraud.”

“The defendants argued that asbestos was considered a safe material in the 1950s when it was used in Kent cigarettes except in prolonged occupational exposure. They argued that a number of medical journals and magazines had published that the filters contained asbestos; it was not a secret. The change in filters was attributed solely to poor market performance. They argued that Horowitz only smoked Kents after the asbestos had been removed and that his mesothelioma was caused by some other exposure to asbestos. Also, they argued that the Kent cigarettes did not release sufficient asbestos to cause harm to Horowitz.”

“The case was heard in the Superior Court of the State of California in and for the City and County of San Francisco, Department X-5 before the Honorable Winton McKibben, Judge pro tem. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff consisting of $1.3 million in compensatory and $700,000 in punitive damages.”