Florida Lawsuit Over Smoker’s Death Results in $80M Award
The daughter of a former smoker who died of lung cancer has been awarded $80 million by a Florida jury in a lawsuit brought against R.J. Reynolds.
The Florida smoker’s lawsuit was brought by the daughter of James Cayce Horner, who died in 1996 after 60 years of smoking. Following trial, a Levy County jury found that R.J. Reynolds was 90% at fault for Horner’s death.
Dianne Webb, Horner’s daughter, was awarded $8 million in compensatory damages and an additional $72 million in punitive damages. Because Horner was found to be 10% responsible for his own death, R.J. Reynolds will only have to pay 90% of the compensatory damages. However, it will have to pay the full punitive damages amount if the verdict holds up on appeal.
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The decision breaks an 8-case winning streak for the tobacco industry, which followed a $300 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds in November 2009 in a lawsuit brought by Cindy Naugle, who accused the company of causing her emphysema and ill health because it concealed the negative side effects of smoking decades before. However, even the victorious cases will likely have to undergo an appeals process that could last years.
The case was one of about 8,000 smoker lawsuits filed against tobacco companies in Florida, known as Engle Progeny lawsuits. The individual claims stem from a 2006 decision by the Florida Supreme Court, in Engle v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., to vacate a class action verdict from 2000, which awarded $145 billion to an estimated 700,000 smokers. Although the appeals court overturned the award, plaintiffs were allowed to file individual claims and use the liability findings from the class action trial.
The ruling does allow juries in current cases to see previous jury findings that determined cigarettes are defective and dangerous products. Tobacco companies have called the ruling unfair and unconstitutional, because it allows juries to look at a previous jury’s findings. However, plaintiffs have pointed out that they must still prove that the addiction caused the damages, as opposed to the damage being caused by the choice of the smoker to start smoking.
JosephineDecember 30, 2016 at 10:21 pm
Hi I would like someone in your organization to help me Sue the tobacco company for me getting COPD my doctor at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami Florida same eye condition it's going to get worse I'm on medicine for the rest of my life and I would like to go after the Tobacco Company can someone help thank you in advance
BeverlyJuly 7, 2016 at 2:29 am
My husband came home from Afghanistan back in 2013 with a very sore throat and right ear ache. The Dr. Kept telling him that it was sinus infections and gave husband antibiotics for that. I set hi. An appointment with a ENT in Mobile Alabama the following week and was told at that visit that he had throat cancer. The following week a byopcy was performed and came back with 4th stage throat cancer.[Show More]My husband came home from Afghanistan back in 2013 with a very sore throat and right ear ache. The Dr. Kept telling him that it was sinus infections and gave husband antibiotics for that. I set hi. An appointment with a ENT in Mobile Alabama the following week and was told at that visit that he had throat cancer. The following week a byopcy was performed and came back with 4th stage throat cancer. Had surgery to remove his voice box and part of his esphogus, and took radiation treatments. He went into remission but the cancer came back 3 years later and had spread to his lungs, bones, blood, and his throat again. All this pain and suffering was caused from years and years of smoking. I need an attorney but have no idea where to start, can someone please help me bring a suit against the tobacco company? Please reply
louieFebruary 22, 2013 at 10:54 pm
I lost my mother almost 2 years ago,after she smoked salem cigarettes for several years .I tried to get her too stop,but she was addicted to those dam cigarettes,She died after having a tumor on her liver,and then she had too use a breathing machine,but she still smoked.Thank god she died in her sleep,but the coroner said she died from cancer of the lungs.
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