Tobacco Wars

(Los Angeles Daily Journal)

A Los Angeles firm that has been involved in a series of lawsuits challenging the tobacco industry now finds itself as lead counsel in what is probably the most visible case yet filed.

Howarth & Smith filed a complaint three weeks ago in federal court in Texas on behalf of the widow and son of David McLean, a.k.a. the Marlboro Man. The lawsuit alleges that McLean, a Beverly Hills resident who died of lung cancer after smoking as much as five packs a day, died because he was addicted to nicotine.

Suzelle M. Smith, a name partner in Howarth & Smith, said the Marlboro Man case will have repercussions in other tobacco litigation around the country. McLean's widow "feels David was really part of the effort to sell addictive and deadly products," Smith said. "And she feels she wants to pay back part of the debt."

Howarth & Smith is also part of a lawsuit filed in July in Orange County Superior Court that alleges the industry sold an addictive drug. This case is the California version of a federal class action filed on behalf of every addicted smoker in the country, an action that was tossed out by appeals panel in new Orleans that determined it was too large to manage.

Working with Howarth & Smith in the Orange County litigation are attorneys with Dougherty & Hildre of San Diego; Robinson, Phillips & Calcagnie of Laguna Niguel; and Casey, Gerry, Reed & Schenk of San Diego.