In what is considered a major setback for the tobacco industry, the tobacco litigation attorneys at Farah & Farah have learned that the 3rd District Court of Appeal has upheld a jury verdict that awarded $35 million in damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer in 1996.
The widow was initially a member of a large class-action suit against R.J. Reynolds, the country’s largest tobacco company. The Florida Supreme Court threw out the class action case. The now famous “Engle Decision” opened up the gates for individuals to sue tobacco companies in Florida state courts.
The woman sued North-Carolina-based Lorillard Tobacco Company, claiming that the company made the brand of cigarettes that her husband had been addicted to since he was 14-years-old. She contended that the company willfully disregarded scientific research on the health threats and addictiveness of its products and continued to aggressively “cast doubt on the validity” on the scientific community’s findings.
A Florida jury agreed with her and awarded her $25 million in punitive damages and another $20 million in compensatory damages. The judge later lowered the compensatory damages to $10 million.
The court ruling stated, “The plaintiff … provided evidence of more than a half-century of Lorillard’s reckless disregard of the scientific findings and of its indifference to the potential physical harm to consumers caused by its product for its own purely economic gain.”
Lorillard appealed, claiming that cigarettes are legal and that it had complied with all regulations concerning their manufacture and sale. This latest court of appeals verdict now slams the appeals door shut even if the tobacco giant wants to seek a new trial over the damages.
As usual, Big Tobacco continues its fight to deny liability for its dangerous and defective products. If you have lost a loved one, or if you have been sickened due to a tobacco product, you might be entitled to compensation for wrongful death, medical bills and other damages. Contact Farah & Farah today to learn about your legal options and how we might be able to help you and your family.