Press Release

Kirkland & Ellis Attorneys Win Summary Judgment in Tobacco Case

A Kentucky state court in Louisville has granted summary judgment for Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation in a lawsuit filed by a man seeking $31 million in damages, claiming that he developed a pulmonary disease from smoking Pall Mall cigarettes.

Brown & Williamson was represented by Andrew McGaan, a partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis.  The ruling was the third successful defense of the company by Mr. McGaan against claims brought by smokers.

The plaintiffs, Nelson and Brenda Walton, claimed that Mr. Nelson developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from smoking cigarettes for 14 years.  To support their claim, they sought to introduce testimony from two doctors, Dr. Henry Luban and Dr. Ammar Almasalkhi, that cigarette smoking had caused Mr. Nelson's illness.

Judge Ann O'Malley Shake rejected the proposed testimony of both doctors, holding that Dr. Almasalkhi's testimony "clearly does not establish that Walton's past cigarette smoking" caused his illness and that Dr. Luban was "decidedly unqualified" to offer an opinion linking Walton's smoking to his disease.  She excluded Dr. Luban and granted Brown & Williamson's Motion for Summary Judgment.

In her written opinion, the judge said, "Without necessary causation testimony, there is no evidence in the record that establishes that Walton's cigarette smoking was the cause of his [illness]."

Judge Shake entered her Order on April 4, 2003, after hearing oral arguments the previous day.