Tony Gwynn’s Family Settles Wrongful Death Case Against Smokeless Tobacco Maker

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Mr. Padre, Tony Gwynn. File photo

The family of late Padres great Tony Gwynn has settled a wrongful death suit against U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., says the attorney for the Hall of Famer’s family.

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“The case has been settled to everyone’s satisfaction,” said a statement Friday from David S. Casey Jr., the attorney. “The terms of the settlement remain confidential.”

The case had been scheduled to go to trial on September 2019 in San Diego. The family claimed the maker of Skoal chewing tobacco was responsible for “killing the baseball legend.”

Details of the settlement were not disclosed. But Altria, which bought U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., settled a similar case for $5 million in 2010.

“We assess litigation on a case-by-case basis and determined this agreement was in the best interests of the company,” U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. spokesman Steve Callahan said in a statement.

The family said the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco in the late 1970s when he was a star at San Diego State University.

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years and admitted an addiction when he tried to stop using it. He died from salivary gland cancer in 2014 at the age of 54.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. said Gwynn was “warned or otherwise made aware of the alleged risks of using smokeless tobacco products.”

Warning labels did not appear on chewing tobacco products until the late 1980s, about 10 years after Gwynn started using the product.

In settling, Altria avoids a costly legal battle in San Diego, where Gwynn is a beloved figure, and the family avoids having to disclose Gwynn’s medical history as well as having to fight a company with vast resources.

Updated at 7:25 p.m. Sept. 7, 2018

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