For 28 years, Michael Thompson smoked cigarettes. He stopped when he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997. Following the diagnosis, he sued the manufacturers and distributors of the cigarettes in a personal injury action. A state court granted summary judgment for the distributors, but not for the manufacturers. The case against manufacturers R.J. Reynolds and Brown & Williamson went to trial, and Thompson obtained a verdict of more than $1 million in his favor.
After Thompson died in 2009, his wife and children brought a wrongful death suit against all the previous defendants. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed dismissal of Thompson v. R.J. Reynolds based on Missouri's "one recovery" rule.