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West Virginia court rules in favor of tobacco companies

A product liability lawsuit in West Virginia against big tobacco companies shows the legal action victims of defective products can take against the companies who sell dangerous and unsafe products to consumers. In this case, hundreds of people in West Virginia filed a product liability lawsuit against five tobacco companies for designing a defective product and not informing consumers about the danger their products may pose.

This case was a challenge for the plaintiffs because the victims were all cigarette smokers and product liability experts said that most cases like this one automatically find the smokers at fault instead of the tobacco companies. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs argued that the tobacco companies were negligent in manufacturing their cigarettes and withheld information from the public after learning about the potentially dangerous side effects of their defective product.

The lawsuit went to trial in West Virginia, and the plaintiff's attorney argued that the tobacco companies should have informed smokers about the dangers of covering the ventilation holes in cigarettes. In addition, the lawsuit alleged that the tobacco companies tried to make consumers believe that light and ultra light cigarettes were safer and posed fewer health risks.

After the jury heard the arguments, they ruled in favor of the tobacco companies, saying that they were not negligent in designing or manufacturing their cigarettes. They also said that the companies did not fail to warn consumers about the dangers of their product. While the jury sided with the tobacco companies on a majority of the claims, they did rule in favor of the plaintiffs on one claim.

The jury said that the filtered cigarettes made by these companies were defective because the companies failed to instruct consumers about properly ventilating the cigarettes. The plaintiff's attorney said that this ruling is still a victory for the plaintiffs because tobacco companies have not been found liable in previous cases similar to this case.

The lawsuit against big tobacco companies in West Virginia is a good example of the ways companies can face legal action for manufacturing and selling defective products that harm consumers. Consumers who are victims of defective or dangerous products should contact a product liability attorney to discuss their specific case.

Source: The Gazette, "Big victory for Big Tobacco in Kanawha County," Kate White, May 15, 2013

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