RJ Reynolds appeals $30 million verdict to Supremesby Dara Kam | March 15th, 2011
R.J. Reynolds is asking the Florida Supreme Court to overturn a $30 million award to the widow of a long-time smoker of Lucky Strikes.
The cigarette maker is appealing a December appeals court decision upholding the verdict awarding $30 million – the highest award since the historic Engle decision -to Matilde Martin.
The appeal was filed in the Florida Supreme Court today.
Martin, whose husband Benny died of lung cancer after smoking for more than 50 years, sued R.J. Reynolds and five other cigarette manufacturers arguing the tobacco companies conspired to make their products addictive and hid from the public information about the dangers of smoking.
Last summer, a Palm Beach County jury ordered Reynolds and Philip Morris to pay only $270,000 in punitive damages to the widow of a Royal Palm Beach smoker who died of lung cancer at age 55.
The case under appeal, as well as the Palm Beach County case, are among roughly 8,000 spawned in 2006 when the Florida Supreme Court threw out the $145 billion verdict a Miami-Dade County jury awarded smokers in a class action suit filed by longtime smoker Dr. Howard Engle.
While upholding the jury’s findings the cigarette-makers had lied about the dangers of smoking, the high court ruled that each of the smokers had to prove how they were uniquely harmed by cigarettes.