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Man admits to smoking cigarettes in mesothelioma lawsuit

A North Carolina man and his wife have filed a lawsuit against more than 70 companies, claiming that they are responsible for the man's ultimate diagnosis of mesothelioma. In his lawsuit, the man states that he smoked cigarettes for 20 years. The suit raises an interesting question: does an admittance of cigarette smoking significantly affect a mesothelioma lawsuit?

According to the asbestos lawsuit, the man worked as an insulator from 1956 until 1993, during which time he was exposed to asbestos and products containing asbestos. As a result, he developed mesothelioma, with which he was diagnosed in August 2010. His current prognosis is unknown.

The man is suing 73 companies based on theories of negligence, strict liability, conspiracy, misrepresentation, contaminated buildings, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, intentional tort, and post-sale duty to warn. Some of the companies named in the lawsuit are 3M Company, Honeywell, Inc., PPG Industries, Inc., Viacom, Inc., ITT Corporation, UB West Virginia, Certainteed Corporation, Burlington Industries, Inc. and more than 60 other lawsuits.

In the complaint, the man stated that he smoked cigarettes from 1955 until 1975, at which time he quit. It is not known whether any of the defendants will incorporate this fact into their defense.

While the combination of cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure increases the odds that lung cancer will develop, there is evidence that quitting smoking significantly decreases the odds that lung cancer will develop. Further, there is no evidence that smoking increases the risk of developing mesothelioma. Because that is the disease with which the plaintiff is afflicted, it is unlikely that his smoking will affect the outcome of the lawsuit.

Source: The West Virginia Record, "N.C. couple names 73 defendants in asbestos case," Kyla Asbury, Feb. 13, 2012

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