A 2016 Wrongful Death lawsuit concerning Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has reached a settlement this week.
Gwynn’s family filed a Wrongful Death lawsuit after years of chewing tobacco led him to develop salivary gland cancer. He died in 2014 at age 54 as a result.
Gwynn’s smokeless tobacco addiction began about ten years prior to when health warnings about smokeless tobacco were required to appear on all products. by then, he was “hopelessly addicted” and continued using it for over 30 years. Smokeless tobacco was historically a staple in baseball, with its use on the field only forbidden for players who make their debut in 2016 and onward. The process of eliminating it from the sport is still ongoing.
Two years after the filing of the Wrongful Death suit by Gwynn’s family, they and the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company have reached a settlement over Gwynn’s death.
Originally, Gwynn’s family sued for an amount meant to cover funeral costs, inheritance and loss of financial support. Though the settlement was handled privately, it was said to have been to the satisfaction of both parties involved.
Though the settlement amount remains undisclosed and the terms of the deal are to remain confidential, a similar case in 2010 resulted in the company agreeing to pay $5 million to the family of a deceased North Carolina man who died battling mouth cancer. It’s expected that this lawsuit was settled for a similar dollar amount
Settling the lawsuit instead of taking it to court benefits both parties in the long run. The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company eliminates the negative press that comes with a lawsuit, while Gwynn’s family can avoid the years of litigation sure to follow. The U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, having more resources than the Gwynn’s, would be able to extend the court case for a significant period of time should the have made it into the courtroom. The company also would have struggled, as San Diego holds much love for Gwynn, and winning a court case there would have proven to be a challenge.
The original case was set to have a trial date in Sept. 2019.