In the early to mid-1950s, many people who were employed at the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company in Louisville, KY were exposed to asbestos, and decades later, many of them were diagnosed with mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. Additionally, many people were secondarily exposed through relatives who worked at the plant, while others were exposed to asbestos while smoking Kent cigarettes manufactured with asbestos filters at the Louisville plant.
This post explains how people were exposed to asbestos due to Lorillard. Then, it outlines your legal options and how to get help. To talk about your case now, contact us at Satterley & Kelley, PLLC today.
Founded in 1760, the P. Lorillard Tobacco Company manufactured Newport, Maverick, Old Gold, Kent, and other popular cigarettes. From 1952 to 1956, Lorillard used an asbestos filter (called the Kent Micronite) to make its Kent cigarettes. Many Kent smokers and Lorillard employees contracted mesothelioma or lung cancer due to exposure to asbestos fibers in those filters.
The P. Lorillard Tobacco Company manufactured Kent cigarettes with Micronite filters from 1952 to 1956. It removed these cigarettes from the market in 1957.
Due to the filter, the company marketed the Kent as a “safe” cigarette — allegedly, the asbestos filters protected smokers from inhaling other carcinogens. Unfortunately, however, the cigarettes contained multiple carcinogens, and both smokers and factory employees were exposed to asbestos fibers.
In the early to mid-1950s, P. Lorillard Tobacco opened a cigarette manufacturing plant in Louisville, Kentucky. The plant manufactured Kent cigarettes with Kent Micronite filters as well as other types of cigarettes. To manufacture the filters, Lorillard purchased rolls of asbestos-containing material from Hollingsworth & Vose.
Employees were exposed to asbestos when they carried the rolls of material into the building and throughout the manufacturing process. In the plug room, Lorillard employees cut the rolls into tiny pieces to make the filters. Then, the filters were sent to the cutting machines where a single wrapper would go around a piece of filter and enough tobacco for two cigarettes.
The cutting machine cut through the filter and created two cigarettes from a single wrapper. Each of the cigarettes went in a separate direction on the machine to be inspected and packaged. Everyone operating the machines breathed in asbestos fibers as the machine cut through thousands of filters every hour.
The tray handlers gathered the finished cigarettes to prepare them for packaging, and they were also responsible for discarding the broken cigarettes. They salvaged the tobacco to be put through the process again. Then, they put the ripped wrappers and broken filters into the garbage. During this process, they inhaled asbestos fibers.
Legal Options for People Who Contracted Mesothelioma From Kent Cigarettes Manufactured by Lorillard Tobacco
If you worked for Lorillard Tobacco between 1952 and 1956, you most likely inhaled asbestos fibers on the job. This leads to mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Unfortunately, due to Kentucky’s workers’ compensation laws, you cannot bring a lawsuit against Lorillard Tobacco for causing you to contract mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work.
However, if you smoked Kent cigarettes, you have the right to pursue compensation against Lorillard Tobacco as the manufacturer of these cigarettes. Indeed, Lorillard gave Kent cigarettes to its employees many of whom smoked them outside of work. You may also be able to hold the manufacturer of the filter material liable for your injuries. When you talk with a personal injury attorney, they will help you understand more about your options.
You also have a right to compensation if you contracted mesothelioma due to secondary exposure — for example, inhaling asbestos fibers from your parent’s or spouse’s clothing when they returned home from working at Lorrilard Tobacco.
As of 2023, a recent decision from the Kentucky Court of Appeals improves the outlook for people who were exposed due to secondary exposure. The Appellate Court’s ruling established that employers have a duty to protect their employees’ families from foreseeable harm. During the time period Lorillard manufactured Kent cigarettes, the risks of asbestos were already well established.
In fact, safety journals published in that time period advised employees to remove their clothes before leaving manufacturing plants to prevent the toxins from leaving the work sites.
If you or a loved one has contracted mesothelioma due to exposure at P. Lorillard Tobacco or from smoking Kent cigarettes with Micronite filters, you only have one year from the date of diagnosis to bring forward a lawsuit.
However, the law focuses on the date that you discovered the injury, and technically, you have one year from the date of discovery to sue the party that injured you. With asbestos-related lawsuits, the date of discovery is generally the date of diagnosis, but there can be exceptions depending on whether the defendants conceleaed the presence of asbestos in their products. Regardless, time is of the essence. You should contact an attorney immediately following diagnosis of an asbestos disease.
Yes, the company that acquired Lorillard Tobacco Company also acquired all of its legal liabilities for previously manufactured products. That means you can sue the new owner.
Reynolds American, Inc bought Lorillard Tobacco in 2014 for $27 billion. Reynolds is the second largest tobacco manufacturer in the United States, and it is a subsidiary of British American Tobacco. British American bought Reynolds for $49.4 billion in 2017.
These billion-dollar companies subjected many employees and customers to asbestos. This cost people years of their lives, time with their family members, and millions of dollars in medical bills. These corporations did this although the risks were well documented.
At Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, we have represented dozens of clients who were employed at Lorillard Tobacco in Louisville, KY as well as people who contracted mesothelioma and/or lung cancer from smoking Kent cigarettes. We focus on asbestos-related litigation, and we fight hard to get our clients and their families the compensation that they deserve.
We know that no amount of money can compensate you for your health or time lost with your family, but we will treat you like family and help you get the justice you deserve. If you’ve contracted mesothelioma due to the negligence of Lorillard Tobacco or any other company, you deserve compensation. Don’t wait — contact us for help today.