Jury hits R.J. Reynolds with $46.3 million verdict
Friday, April 23, 2010
There really isn’t much to add to this other than to note it: Another jury in Florida has ruled against R.J. Reynolds in a tobacco case. The plaintiff this time was Lyantie Townsend, whose late husband started smoking as an adolescent — age 13 or 14 — and died in 1995.
As media coverage notes, the Florida case is the 13th verdict against a tobacco company out of 15 cases since the Florida Supreme Court decided in 2006 that individual cases could be brought, effectively decertifying the class action approach there.
The Tobacco Products Liability Project, an anti-smoking group, offers this roundup of other recent decisions in Florida that are likely to nudge up the cost of a pack of smokes by a nickel or two:
– March 10. A jury awarded $5 million compensatory damages award to the plaintiff in the Douglas case. The jury assessed 50% responsibility to the deceased smoker, 27% responsibility to Liggett Group, 18% responsibility to Philip Morris, and 5% responsibility to R.J. Reynolds. Thus, if the verdict withstands appeals, the plaintiff will receive $2.5 million.
– March 12. A jury in Gainesville awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $12.5 million in punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds in the Hall case. The trial judge later reduced the total award to $15.75 million.
– March 17. The Third District Court of Appeal upheld the $24.8 million award to John Lukacs, a longtime smoker who died of cancer shortly after his 2002 trial. The defendants in that case are Philip Morris USA, Brown & Williamson and Liggett Group.
– March 24. A jury in Fort Lauderdale awarded $10 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds in the Cohen case. The jury assessed one-third responsibility to Mr. Cohen, Philip Morris and RJR; thus, the total award to the plaintiff, if the verdict withstands appeals, will be $26.6 million.
– April 13 and 14. A jury awarded $3.5 million in compensatory damages and $18 million ($17 million against R.J. Reynolds and $1 million against Liggett Group) in punitive damages to the family of a longtime smoker in the Clay case. The jury assessed the smoker as 30% responsible, R.J. Reynolds 60% responsible and Liggett Group 10% responsible. Thus, if the verdict withstands appeal, the plaintiff will receive $20.45 million.