Tobacco Case Plaintiff Ready Woman Blames R.J. Reynolds

Article excerpt

Bring on the jury, the judge, the reporters, the cameras and, of

course, the lawyers. Joann Karbiwnyk is prepared to face them all.

"I'm ready to go and get it over with," said the Orange Park

woman who is the plaintiff in Jacksonville's next cigarette

product liability case.

She'll have to wait an extra two months, though. Last week, at

the request of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Circuit Judge Michael

Weatherby postponed the trial from Aug. 4 to Oct. 4.

Karbiwnyk blames Reynolds for the deadly cancer that appeared

in her right lung in 1995, 11 years after she quit smoking.

The familiar questions of addiction, corporate liability and

personal responsibility are being played out again in

Jacksonville, the site of two trials against cigarette makers.

In one of a series of pre-trial hearings, attorneys argued

yesterday in Weatherby's chambers about legal defenses and the

public's knowledge of the risks of smoking.

Karbiwnyk's attorney, Norwood S. "Woody" Wilner, has tried two

cases against tobacco companies in two years. He won $750,000

for his client in the first case last year against Brown &

Williamson Tobacco Corp. and lost the second case to Reynolds in

May.

Karbiwnyk, 58, appears healthy and still works as a processor

for a mortgage company. But she's been warned by her doctors

that her time is short. Despite chemotherapy treatments that

left her bald and weakened, the cancer has spread to her brain,

and it's terminal.

Last week, Reynolds attorney Ted Grossman pleaded with

Weatherby to postpone the trial, which had already been delayed

from June.

Grossman said the defense team desperately needed more time to

prepare its case and question Wilner's expert witnesses. …

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