R.J. Reynolds to appeal plaintiff's award of $30 million..

June 9, 2009 - A jury in Pensacola, Fla., awarded $5 million in compensation damages and $25 million in punitive damages from Reynolds to the family of Benny Martin.

said it will appeal the decision. Reynolds spokesman David Howard said. "We believe the verdict will ultimately be reversed." The award in the Martin case is by far the highest of the seven cases in which a ruling has been made. Plaintiffs have won five cases and the manufacturers two. Howard said that the damages awarded in the other two cases involving Reynolds were just compensatory, and the juries found the plaintiff 50 percent at fault. "Therefore, Reynolds is liable for half the damages amount," he said.

Philip Morris USA has appealed an $8 million jury award and Liggett Group Inc. has appealed a $700,000 award. Reynolds also is facing jury awards of $1.5 million and $1.2 million.

As pointed out in January 2008, Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Lawsuits... Howard said that Reynolds is aware of at least 3,284 potential individual lawsuits, of which Reynolds is a defendant in 3,270. Analysts have said there is the potential for about 8,000 of these individual lawsuits in Florida.

Edward Sweda, a senior attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project in Boston, said he believes the $30 million jury award is another major blow to the tobacco industry.

Reference: RJR plans to appeal Florida jury's ruling on damages from smoker's lawsuit by Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal, 6/3/2009.