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SACKMAN v. LIGGETT GROUP

June 9, 1997

JANET AND JOSEPH SACKMAN, Plaintiffs,
v.
LIGGETT GROUP, INC., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPATT

 SPATT, District Judge:

 This lawsuit arises from the claims of the plaintiffs, Janet Sackman ("Sackman" or the "plaintiff") and her husband Joseph Sackman ("Joseph" collectively the "plaintiffs") against the defendant Liggett Group, Inc. ("Liggett" or the "defendant") based on personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff which she contends were the result of her smoking cigarettes manufactured by the defendant. According to the plaintiffs, Liggett concealed information regarding the health risks of smoking. As a result, Sackman asserts that she continued to smoke, unaware of the attendant dangers, and she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1990. Presently before the Court is the motion of the defendant for summary judgment with respect to the plaintiffs' Eighth Count, contained in the First Amended Complaint ("Amended Complaint") alleging a claim for civil conspiracy.

 I. Background

 The facts underlying this lawsuit are set forth in this Court's Memorandum of Decision and Order dated May 25, 1996. See Sackman v. Liggett Group Inc., 167 F.R.D. 6, 9-10 (E.D.N.Y. 1996) ("Sackman I "). Familiarity with this decision is presumed and the detailed facts will not be repeated. The Amended Complaint alleged claims for products liability, negligence, breach of warranty, fraud, civil conspiracy and loss of consortium. In Sackman I, the Court granted Liggett's first motion for summary judgment based on statute of limitations grounds, in part. The Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claims grounded in fraud and breach of warranty and denied the motion with regard to the Sackmans' claims based on negligence, products liability and loss of consortium. For reasons set forth in the record on August 23, 1996, Sackman's civil conspiracy claim was not addressed. As a result, the Court granted the defendant leave to file a second motion for summary judgment with respect to this claim.

 The allegations contained in Count Eight are as follows:

 
EIGHTH COUNT
 
45. Plaintiff Janet Sackman repeats the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 44 of this First Amended Complaint as if set forth fully in this Count, and alleges:
 
46. Defendant Liggett Group, Inc., as a member of the tobacco industry was or should have been at all times relevant to the events described in this Complaint, in possession of medical and scientific data indicating that the use of its cigarettes was hazardous to the health of consumers, but, because of pecuniary motives, defendant Liggett Group, Inc. ignored and failed to act upon the pertinent medical and scientific data and conspired to deprive the public, and particularly the consumers of the defendant's product, of the pertinent medical and scientific data.
 
47. Defendant Liggett Group, Inc.'s failure to communicate to the public scientific facts in its possession, and its collaboration with others in the tobacco industry to misrepresent facts constitute overt actions to keep the public ignorant of hazards associated with tobacco smoking.
 
48. As a direct and proximate result of defendant Liggett Group, Inc.'s willful, wanton and conspiratorial acts and omissions, gross negligence, conscious indifference and utter disregard for the life, health, safety and welfare of the plaintiff, Janet Sackman, has developed lung cancer, was caused to sustain other personal injuries, has undergone and in the future will undergo great pain and suffering, was and is unable to attend to her usual occupation and activities, was and in the future will be required to spend money for medical care and has sustained and will sustain other losses.

 According to the plaintiffs, these allegations allege a claim for conspiracy to ...


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