Gwynn family sues tobacco industry over death

Hall of Famer died in '14 of salivary gland cancer

Gwynn family sues tobacco industry over death

SAN FRANCISCO -- The family of Tony Gwynn filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the tobacco industry on Monday, according to the New York Times. Gwynn, who died in 2014 of salivary gland cancer, spent 20 seasons as an outfielder for the Padres and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.

The Times' report states that the lawsuit was filed against Altria Group, Inc., formerly Philip Morris. In the suit, Gwynn's family charges that Gwynn was manipulated into his addiction to smokeless tobacco, which led to his death at age 54.

Former outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues, is one of the plaintiffs in the suit -- along with Alicia Gwynn and Anisha Gwynn-Jones, the wife and daughter of Tony Sr., respectively.

The two Gwynn children, along with lead lawyer David S. Casey, will address the San Diego media on Tuesday afternoon about the pending lawsuit.

They claim that Gwynn fell victim to a scheme when he was in college, which got him addicted to smokeless tobacco. The suit alleges that the tobacco industry used Gwynn as "a marketing dream come true."

"Now that the family understands how he was targeted, they understand that the industry knew they had this highly carcinogenic product and they were marketing it to people like Tony," Casey told the New York Times. "They want to hold them accountable and let a jury make a decision as to what is proper in this case."

Said Gwynn Jr. in the report: "The tobacco companies were using his addiction to turn him into their ultimate walking billboard. He never knew it, but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generation of kids and fans who idolized him."

Smokeless tobacco use has been banned in the Minors since 1993, but Major Leaguers can't be prohibited from using it without an agreement to do so from the MLB Players Association. Still, the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and New York have all passed legislation prohibiting smokeless tobacco, making its use illegal in stadiums -- a law that applies to both players and fans.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.