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Burton v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
United States District Court for the District of Kansas
884 F. Supp. 1515 (1995)
For four decades, David Burton (plaintiff) smoked cigarettes manufactured and sold by R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the American Tobacco Company (collectively, the tobacco companies) (defendants). Burton claimed that using the tobacco companies’ products directly and proximately caused his vascular disease, resulting in the amputation of his legs. Burton and his wife, Ora, sued the tobacco companies, alleging strict liability in tort for manufacture of a defective product, fraud and misrepresentation, negligence, breach of express warranty, conspiracy, and violation of consumer-protection statutes. The Burtons argued that the tobacco companies placed cigarettes in the stream of commerce that were dangerous beyond what an ordinary consumer would contemplate and that were in an unsafe and defective condition. The Burtons also argued that the cigarettes were defective because they caused addiction and dependency, which rendered any warning meaningless. The tobacco companies argued that the Burtons did not allege the tobacco companies’ cigarettes were anything but “good tobacco” as described under § 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, comment i, and, accordingly, that the tobacco companies’ cigarettes were neither defective nor unreasonably dangerous under § 402A. The tobacco companies also argued that the Burtons’ strict-liability claims should be dismissed because the Burtons merely attacked cigarettes generically and failed to allege a specific defect.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Lungstrum, J.)
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