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New York Jury Dismisses Secondhand Smoke Claim

On May 9, 2008, a New York jury unanimously ruled in favor of the City in a claim filed in 2001 by 78-year-old Raymond Marques, known as "Spanish Raymond" in his heyday as the alleged chief of the Spanish Harlem numbers racket that operated in New York from the 1940s to 1990s. The ruling came following a two-week trial and a little more than an hour of deliberations.

Represented by his attorney/son, David Marquez, Spanish Ray filed the 15-million dollar suit after being diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2000 and learning that smoking is the leading cause of the disease. Despite being a smoker himself from age 15 to age 45, Marquez blames his cancer on the secondhand smoke he was exposed to during his 29-month stay at New York's Riker's Island awaiting trial, because, he contends, he never inhaled during his 30-year smoking career. Additionally, pointing to the fact that his father had not smoked in 23 years, David Marquez said, "There are medical books, current and past, that say that the risk for bladder cancer in someone who has smoked dissipates over 20 years to the level of a never smoker."

This case has been widely scorned, and, in the words of the City's lead counsel in the case, Scott Gleason, " a perfect example of some of the ridiculous cases the City must defend against- and on which we waste incredible amounts of money." Of course, cases like this provide substantial propaganda potential for cities hoping to bury the many good cases of which the public is not aware. Source:,

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