Smoker launches pioneering damages case
6 June 2005, AMSTERDAM — A 67-year-old Dutch man who smoked for 25 years was due to serve a writ on Monday demanding damages from tobacco firm British American Tobacco (BAT).
6 June 2005
AMSTERDAM — A 67-year-old Dutch man who smoked for 25 years was due to serve a writ on Monday demanding damages from tobacco firm British American Tobacco (BAT).
"I want the tobacco industry to answer up to years of deceit and concealment," said claimant Peter Römer, of Landgraaf in the province of Limburg.
It is the first time that a seriously ill former smoker has taken a tobacco company to court in the Netherlands, news agency ANP reported.
Römer smoked BAT cigarettes (Caballero, Peter Stuyvesant and Lord) between 1957 and 1983. He now suffers from pulmonary emphysema.
The court battle has been prepared over five years. Römer hopes the court will declare the tobacco manufacturer responsible for his illness and he accuses BAT of failing to warn about the risks of smoking.
Warnings against smoking were only placed on cigarette packets in the Netherlands at the insistence of the Dutch government in 1981.
Römer said he was not aware of the risks when he started smoking in 1957. He only became aware of the risks at a later date, but by then he was already addicted to smoking.
Tobacco companies are being taken to court across the globe by smokers. BAT company lawyer Joost Keulen said several thousand lawsuits have been lodged against the cigarette industry.
Keulen said damages have only been awarded in a few cases. Most cases are dismissed because smokers knew for many years that smoking was unhealthy, he said.
The lawyer said BAT is confident of success in its lawsuit, pinning its hopes on the judge ruling that smokers are personally responsible.
Lawyers representing Römer said the judge must decide to what extent he was aware of the risks. One lawyer said the tobacco industry had remained silent despite the fact the risks of smoking had been known for decades.
Römer has called in the personal injury lawyers from an Amersfoort law firm, SAP.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news