Major Tobacco Corporations lose $20 Million Verdict

A six person jury found three cigarette companies responsible for the cancer death of a Florida woman. The woman had begun smoking in 1953 at the age of 15 and died in 1995.
The lawyer who was representing her three children stated , “She started smoking in an era when cigarette advertising was pervasive, on TV– in its infancy – in print media and on radio.”
The verdict follows a series of losses by the tobacco industry after a ruling by the State Supreme Court in a tobacco class action case. In the decision the high court decertified a statewide class of addicted smokers and permitted individual suits to go forward.
Jurors reached the verdict after less than a four hour deliberation.
The jury awarded the victims family $ 15 million in compensatory damages. Jurors assigned 35 % of the responsibility to the victim for her death; 15% to one cigarette company and 20% to the other one. Jurors also assessed $2.5 million in punitive damages each cigarette company.
In most of the post-Engle cases the compensatory portion of the award has been reduced by the plantiff percentage of responsibility as found by the jurors. The issue hasn’t yet been resolved in this case.
The Supreme Court upheld many of the factual findings of the jury trial in the past case including finding that the cigarette companies conspired to conceal information about the addictiveness of smoking and that cigarettes are an unreasonably dangerous product. The Supreme Court further ruled that these findings would apply in all future individual trials. The cigarette companies believe this ruling denies them rights to a fair trial.
The tobacco companies Sr. Vice President and general counsel said ” We believe this verdict should be reversed because the court’s trial plan improperly eliminated any requirement that plantiff prove that the companies did anything wrong to recover damages.”
A spokesman for the tobacco company said they were disappointed and plan to appeal.
If your family members or loved ones have been a victim of a wrongful death call my offices located in Baltimore and Rockville, Maryland at 1-800 -320-0080 or email me at jostad@verizon.net for a free consultation.