Tobacco Case Plaintiff Ready Woman Blames R.J. Reynolds
Bell, June D., The Florida Times Union
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
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
Grossman said the defense team desperately needed more time to
prepare its case and question Wilner's expert witnesses. …