On February 25, 2015, attorney Robert Nelson of Lieff Cabraser announced the settlement of more than 400 lawsuits filed by Florida smokers and their families against the major cigarette companies, Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, and Lorillard Tobacco Company. As a part of the settlement, the companies will collectively pay $100 million to injured smokers or their families.
In late January 2015, a jury in federal court in Florida returned a verdict of $6 million against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (“RJR”) for Ellen Gray, the wife of Henry Gray, who died at the age of 63 from lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases. Read more about this verdict.
On October 22, 2014, a jury in federal court in Florida returned a verdict of $41.1 million against Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for conspiring for decades to conceal the hazards of smoking and the addictive nature of cigarettes. The jury award consists of $15.8 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages in the amounts of $15.7 million against Philip Morris and $9.6 million against RJ Reynolds. Learn more about this case and the $41.1 million verdict.
In September 2014, a jury in a Florida federal court returned a verdict of $27,010,000.14 against Philip Morris USA Inc. The $27 million verdict in favor of Plaintiff Judith Berge included a punitive damages award of 20,760,000 dollars and 14 cents.
In September 2013, in RJR v. Walker, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed two plaintiffs’ trial verdicts against defendant’s due process challenges, holding that the trial structure used in the Florida state and federal courts to make individual Engle plaintiff damages trials feasible meets Due Process standards. On June 9, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court denied R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR)’s request for review of the case, meaning that the appellate court’s decision against RJR stands.
In May 2014, a jury returned a verdict against RJR, Philip Morris USA, Inc. (“Philip Morris”), and Lorillard Tobacco Company, awarding $7.5 million to Mrs. Pauline Burkhart for personal injuries caused by her addiction to cigarettes containing nicotine and punitive damages against all Defendants.
In May 2013, a jury returned a verdict of $2.75 million to Earl Graham for the wrongful death of his wife, Faye Graham, in compensatory damages against RJR and Philip Morris.
In April 2013, a jury held RJR and Philip Morris liable for the wrongful death of Carol LaSard. The jury awarded $26 million in damages to Mrs. LaSard’s daughter Cheryl Searcy, as representative of Mrs. LaSard’s estate. The verdict included $20 million in punitive damages. Subsequently, in September 2013, the Court on defendants’ motion for new trial reduced the total award to $4.34 million.
Also in April 2013, a jury returned a verdict of $5.9 million in compensatory damages against RJR to Thelma Ruth Aycock for the wrongful death of her husband.
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