The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in what it calls a "unique" case, has handed down a decision (Donovan, et al. v. Philip Morris USA, Inc.) which allows plaintiffs represented by a team of attorneys, including Todd & Weld LLP, to proceed with a class-action lawsuit on behalf of long-term cigarette smokers against Philip Morris. Christopher Weld, Jr., Kevin T. Peters, and Edward F. Foye of Todd & Weld were instrumental in presenting the case to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). For the first time in Massachusetts, the SJC recognized a tort remedy of medical monitoring. The Court also held that the plaintiffs' claims are not barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
Rather than seeking monetary damages, the plaintiffs are asking that the defendant be compelled to offer a court-certified program of medical surveillance for early detection of lung cancer using a technique known as low-dose computer tomography or LDCT, scans of the chest. LDCT testing only recently became available. The class consists of smokers over 50 who for years smoked Marlboro cigarettes but who have not been diagnosed with cancer. The goal of medical monitoring through LDCT testing is to detect signs of cancer very early so as to dramatically increase survival rates.