FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Lillian Kaplan grew up in the Bronx buying cigarettes for a penny at the local candy store when she was just 12 years old. That was over 70 years ago when smoking was being advertised as a healthy activity that even doctors and dentists approved of. Big tobacco companies, such as Philip Morris, aimed their ads at young teens, women, and children in order to increase profits and get people smoking at a younger age. For decades, tobacco companies understood that smoking tobacco-related products caused serious health risks and increased chances of developing lung cancer, COPD, and emphysema. For the last half of the twentieth century, Big Tobacco deliberately hid these facts in well-organized, billion dollar advertising campaigns and callously risked the lives of millions of men and women—like Lillian Kaplan.
Sadly, the men and women who were most affected by Big Tobacco's lies are now dying. In fact, every year, nicotine delivery devices continue to claim the lives of over 440,000 Americans. Yet Big Tobacco continues to deny and delay. Soon the "Greatest Generation," who suffered most at the hands of this industry, will be gone.
84-year-old, Lillian Kaplan, fought her brave legal battle with Big Tobacco until she passed away last week. She was determined to hold the tobacco companies accountable for their actions in order to help pave the way for other cigarette company victims. For the last 7 years of her life, she tried again and again to have her case heard in court. Shortly before her death, Lillian Kaplan even testified by video in an attempt to have her message heard and seen. Tragically, she did not live long enough to see her case go to trial, and it seems like Big Tobacco's tactics have paid off once again.
"...I remember saying, I bet they're happy,"
- Lillian Kaplan, after her case's second mistrial
Lillian Kaplan was a victim of corporate fraud and a deceitful industry that targeted kids like her for decades, and while her story is a tragic one, it is sadly one of many. In fact, earlier this month a local Jackson County minister died without seeing a penny of the money he was awarded by a Jackson County jury just this spring. Rev. Emmon Smith was recently awarded $27 million dollars, but Big Tobacco appealed the verdict and Mr. Smith passed away while the case was on appeal. Like Lillian Kaplan, Rev. Smith wanted to fight against the giant tobacco companies that still refuse to take responsibility for their actions—even after all this time and all of the deaths.
For now, Lillian Kaplan's case is not over. Her children will carry the torch as Lillian's case becomes a wrongful death claim. All of the Attorneys and Staff of Kelley / Uustal send our condolences to Mrs. Kaplan's family and friends and to all of Big Tobacco's victims.
SOURCE Kelley / Uustal