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Jones Day Obtains Victory in Robare Case

  Law Firm News  -   POSTED: 2007/04/19 22:26





In Robare, the New York Appellate Division, Third Department, affirmed the trial court's order granting defendants' motions for summary judgment dismissing the complaint on the ground that all causes of action against the defendant cigarette manufacturers, including Firm client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. The issue on appeal was whether equitable estoppel prevented defendants from asserting the statute of limitations defense. Absent such estoppel, the plaintiff's claims were clearly time barred.

Plaintiff initiated his action against defendants in August of 1997, well beyond the three-year statute of limitations. He argued that defendants should be equitably estopped from asserting the statute of limitations defense based on various news items he either read or saw regarding the defendants' statements about smoking. The court held that the doctrine of equitable estoppel was inapplicable because plaintiff had timely awareness of all appropriate facts to permit him to make further inquiry before the limitations period expired, and because he either could not have reasonably relied on the news items he claimed to have seen in light of his admitted knowledge of the health risks of smoking, or that news constituted nothing more than mere denials of wrongdoing insufficient to create an estoppel. The court also found that there was no special relationship between plaintiff and defendants that would create a fiduciary relationship obligating defendants to inform plaintiff of the facts underlying his claim. Accordingly, the dismissal of plaintiff's action was unanimously affirmed.

Reynolds was represented by Harold Gordon and Daniel Russo in the New York office.

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