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High court lets stand $17.5M local verdict against tobacco company  

Jump to full article: Gainesville (FL) Sun, 2012-03-30
Author: By Anne Geggis Staff writer

Intro:

The last legal avenue has likely closed for Big Tobacco to avoid paying an Alachua County jury's 2010 award of $17.5 million to a widow whose husband died from lung cancer after 38 years of smoking.

Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request for an appeal in the case involving Arthur Lamar Hall, who died at age 57 in 1995. His widow, Amanda Jean Hall had sued RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and in 2010 was awarded what was then the biggest single civil verdict in this county.

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Cottondale Man Awarded Nearly 30 Million in Tobacco Suit  

Jump to full article: WMBB-TV, 2012-03-29

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· Florida
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· Reynolds American

Tobacco trial jury awards Jackson County man $27 million 

Suit against R.J. Reynolds yields largest award in county history
Jump to full article: Jackson County (FL) Floridian, 2012-03-28
Author: Deborah Buckhalter

Intro:

A Jackson County jury awarded $20 million in punitive damages Wednesday to local lung cancer victim Emmon Smith, who began his lawsuit against the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company about four years ago. It is the largest award in the history of litigation in Jackson County, according to case attorney J.B. Harris.

Wednesday’s proceeding was the second phase of the jury’s work. On Tuesday, the panel had agreed that Smith was due significant compensatory damages. The jury settled on a figure of $10 million in that portion of the case, but effectively reduced Smith’s award to $7 million in compensation by judging that Smith carried a 30 percent share of the blame for his health problems.

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Jury awards local man $10 million  

Jump to full article: Dothan (AL) Eagle, 2012-03-27
Author: Deborah Buckhalter

Intro:

A Jackson County jury on Tuesday awarded a local man $10 million in his lawsuit against the R.J. Reynolds tobacco company, deliberating six hours before returning their verdict in the roughly three-week trial.

The panel will meet again this morning to determine any additional punitive damages that the plaintiff may be due.

Retired AME pastor Emmon Smith, a smoker for more than 40 years, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1992 and subsequently sued the tobacco company.

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Supreme Court OKs Stacked Anti-Tobacco Suits, But Pioneering Heroes Ignored 

Monday's victory, in which the Supreme Court ruled that cigarette companies can't use their legal defenses, opens the door for additional smokers to sue for billions - and where big tobacco will have
Jump to full article: PRLog, 2012-03-28
Author: JOHN F. BANZHAF III

Intro:

The real heroes, the two attorneys who first opened the doors and made all this possible, are the husband-and-wife law firm of Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, says Banzhaf, noting that they were hailed at a recent World Conference on Nonsmokers' Rights in Washington as the "King and Queen of Torts."

"I worked with the self-proclaimed King of Torts, Melvin Belli, at a time when he was trying to put the final jewel in his crown by successfully suing a tobacco company on behalf of a smoker. He never made it before he died," recounted Banzhaf.

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VIDEO: Pensacola Tobacco case 

Jump to full article: WEAR TV3 (Pensacola, FL), 2012-03-27

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· Florida
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High court won't hear Reynolds cases 

Jump to full article: Winston-Salem (NC) Journal, 2012-03-26
Author: Richard Craver

Intro:

"Today was a horrible day for Reynolds," said Ed Sweda, a senior lawyer for the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University School of Law.

"The big problem for Reynolds and the other defendants is that they will now have to start cutting big checks and no longer have the due-process argument to attack the many plaintiff verdicts that have occurred over the past three years."

After the Florida Supreme Court declined to accept Reynolds' appeal of the four verdicts, the company filed petitions for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 16. Its goal was clarity on the company's — and the industry's — financial exposure to the Engle cases.

Jeff Raborn, assistant general counsel for Reynolds, said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision "does not represent a ruling on the merits of Reynolds' constitutional argument."

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$50M Worth Of Tobacco Appeals Won't Get High Court Hearing ($$) 

Jump to full article: Law360, 2012-03-26

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Supreme Court Won't Hear Tobacco Case 

Jump to full article: MedPage Today, 2012-03-26
Author: Joyce Frieden, News Editor, MedPage Today

Intro:

However, the judge noted, "We disagree with [the company's] characterization of the Engle findings."

The judge concluded that the findings in the Engle case "established the conduct elements of Mrs. Martin's strict liability, fraudulent concealment, civil conspiracy, and negligence claims against RJR" and that "Mrs. Martin produced sufficient independent evidence to prove causation, detrimental reliance, and entitlement to punitive damages. The punitive damage award ... satisfies due process in view of the evidence of decades-long wanton conduct by RJR and because the award does not financially devastate the company."

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Supreme Court Rejects Key Tobacco Industry Appeal Leaving “Massive Liability . . . with no End in Sight.” 

Jump to full article: Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI), 2012-03-26

Intro:

Edward L. Sweda, Jr., Senior Attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project (a project of the Public Health Advocacy Institute based at Northeastern University School of Law in Boston) was ecstatic to learn of the denial of Reynolds’ cert petition. “At long last, Reynolds and the other major tobacco companies will be held accountable for their massive and reprehensible misconduct that harmed thousands of Florida smokers. As Reynolds’ own lawyers have concluded, denial of its cert petition is a very big deal indeed,” Sweda said.

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R.J. Reynolds Loses Bid to Fight Smoker’s Verdict in High Court  

Jump to full article: Business Week/Bloomberg, 2012-03-26
Author: Bob Van Voris on March 26, 2012

Intro:

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t review a $28.3 million wrongful death verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., declining to consider legal questions that may affect thousands of similar cases by smokers and their families.

The court today left intact the verdict in a case filed in the wake of a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that lets plaintiffs in cigarette-liability suits use factual findings by a jury in an earlier case to prove their claims. Reynolds, Altria Group Inc. and other U.S. cigarette makers claim Florida trial judges are applying the findings too broadly, depriving them of their right to defend themselves in court.

“The Florida state courts are engaged in serial due- process violations that threaten the defendants with literally billions of dollars of liability,” Reynolds said in a brief seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Supreme court refuses tobacco firm appeal in smoker case 

Jump to full article: Reuters, 2012-03-26
Author: James Vicini

Intro:

The Supreme Court said on Monday it will not hear an appeal by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co in a Florida case in which it was ordered to pay $28.3 million to a woman whose husband died of lung cancer after decades of smoking its cigarettes.

The justices refused an appeal by the Reynolds American Inc unit, which argued that its constitutional due process rights had been violated and that the issue could affect thousands of pending cases in Florida against tobacco companies.

In 2009, a state trial court in Pensacola, Florida, ordered Reynolds to pay more than $3.3 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages to Mathilde Martin.

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Tobacco companies won first, now second trial at federal level in Jacksonville  

Jump to full article: Florida Times-Union, 2012-03-21

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· Altria/Philip Morris

A Second Federal Jury Finds for Philip Morris USA in an Engle Trial  

Jump to full article: Business Wire, 2012-03-19

Intro:

A federal jury in Jacksonville, Fla. today decided in favor of Philip Morris USA (PM USA) and another tobacco company in the second federal Engle case to go to trial (McCray).

"The jury reached the correct result despite the fact that the trial court adopted an unfair trial plan that eliminated any requirement that the plaintiff prove that Philip Morris USA did anything wrong to recover damages."

"The jury listened to the facts, recognized that the smoker was responsible for her own smoking decision, and appropriately found in favor of Philip Morris USA," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. "The jury reached the correct result despite the fact that the trial court adopted an unfair trial plan that eliminated any requirement that the plaintiff prove that Philip Morris USA did anything wrong to recover damages."

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Tobacco Lawsuit Against R.J. Reynolds Begins In Jackson County  

Jump to full article: Courtroom View Network (CVN) , 2012-03-16

Intro:

he only "Engle" progeny tobacco trial scheduled for March began this week in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Emmon Smith, a minister who began smoking in the 1940′s, later developed lung cancer and sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (NYSE: RAI). Smith's case is similar to thousands of individual suits filed against tobacco companies, after the Florida Supreme Court vacated the historic "Engle" class action verdict, and decided each plaintiff's case against tobacco companies must be tried separately.

This is the second time Smith's case has made it all the way to trial. In January of last year, a jury could could not be seated, and the trial was canceled. Jurors in Engle cases must commit to at least two to three weeks in the courtroom which sometimes makes seating a jury difficult.

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