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Smoking lawsuit testimony continues

Published:   |   Updated: August 18, 2013 at 08:05 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - "In my early youth I was addicted to the use of tobacco and two of its mysteries, smoking and chewing."

On the second day of testimony of John Rizzuto's civil lawsuit against cigarette makers Philip Morris and Liggett Group, defense attorney William Geraghty read from an 1845 letter written by President John Quincy Adams. "I was warned by a medical friend of the pernicious operation of this habit upon the stomach and the nerves ... More than 30 years have passed away since I deliberately renounced the use of tobacco in all its forms ...'' read Geraghty, who represents Philip Morris.

Rizzuto, 66, filed a lawsuit in 2008 against the manufacturers of Marlboro Red and L&M cigarettes - two brands he smoked for about 40 years. Court documents show that even though Rizzuto stopped smoking in 2000, he continues to suffer from "severe" chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder and believes he is still addicted to smoking. His trial started last week.

During the defense's cross examination of Dr. Jack Henningfield, Geraghty also paraphrased Mark Twain's ironic aphorism - "quitting smoking is easy, I've done it hundreds of times."

Geraghty's argument was, in part, that tobacco addiction was common knowledge even a century before Rizzuto's birth.

Henningfield, an addiction expert who works as a consultant and teaches at Johns Hopkins University, testified in favor of Rizzuto beginning on Wednesday. On Thursday, Henningfield told Geraghty he had testified in about 40 cases against cigarette manufactures since 1986 and was ultimately in favor of a world without smoking.

Afternoon testimony was devoted to Dr. Domenick Sorresso, a pulmonologist who has treated Rizzuto since 2000.

When explaining how Rizzuto's COPD has affected his lifestyle, Sorresso looked toward the jurors, saying he wasn't sure how familiar they were with the Anderson Snow Sports Complex in Spring Hill.

Sorresso said when Rizzuto's granddaughter has a softball game at the field, Rizzuto asks which field the game is on first.

"If it's at the far end of Anderson Snow, he won't go," Sorresso said.

Sorresso testified even though Rizzuto is a "good patient" with "excellent compliance," his COPD has progressed in the 13 years since he quit smoking.

Sorresso said that at some point in the future, Rizzuto will require oxygen "24/7." Right now, Rizzuto uses oxygen when he sleeps, and relies on other treatments as well.

The trial is expected to continue through the end of next week.

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