Damages Totaling Nearly $32 Million Returned In Two Cases in Federal Court In Florida This Month
Jacksonville—April 19, 2013 – Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that a jury in federal court in Florida yesterday returned a verdict of $5.9 in compensatory damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to Thelma Ruth Aycock for the wrongful death of her husband of 53 years, Richard “Buck” Aycock.
Earlier, on April 1, 2013, another jury in federal court in Florida also held R.J. Reynolds, along with Philip Morris USA, Inc., 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.
Mr. Aycock began smoking cigarettes in his late teens in the 1930s. For more than five decades, he smoked two to three packs of cigarettes a day and was unable to stop due to his addiction to nicotine. As a result, Mr. Aycock died from lung cancer, leaving behind his wife, children and grandchildren.
Mrs. LaSard began smoking cigarettes as a teenager in the late 1940s, triggering a lifelong addition to nicotine until she died from lung cancer in 1996. Mrs. LaSard tried to quit smoking numerous times during her lifetime, including under the care of a physician and with nicotine gum and patches, yet was never successful. Her addiction was so great that she was unable to quit smoking successfully even after she was hospitalized and underwent painful treatment for her lung cancer.
Mrs. LaSard smoked cigarettes marketed as “filtered” and “low tar,” believing they were safer when, as the cigarette company defendants knew, these cigarettes were no safer. Commenting on the trial, Cheryl Searcy stated, “It was an extremely powerful experience to tell the story of how my mother struggled for decades to overcome her nicotine addiction and was unsuccessful. She was a warm, loving mother and grandmother whose golden years were taken away by cigarettes and cancer. I hope the cigarette companies will finally stop hurting people and that this case makes a difference for other families.”
Sarah R. London and Kenneth S. Byrd were part of the Lieff Cabraser team that represented the LaSard family at trial. Mrs. Aycock’s counsel at trial was Norwood S. “Woody” Wilner and Richard Lantinberg of the Wilner Firm, P.A., and Lieff Cabraser’s Kenneth S. Byrd.
Kathryn E. Barnett
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP