Florida - big tobacco loses another case..

April 23, 2010 - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the second-biggest U.S. cigarette maker, must pay $46.3 million to the widow of a Florida man who died from lung cancer in 1995, a Florida jury decided yesterday, April 21st.

Six state-court jurors in Gainesville voted unanimously in favor of the widow of Frank Townsend, who started smoking at age 13 or 14, according to Greg Prysock, who represented Lyantie Townsend in the case.

The verdict is the latest in favor of a smoker or family member in the state following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision in the “Engle” case, which allowed individual smoker lawsuits after the court decertified a statewide class-action case.
(Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Lawsuits..)

Smokers and their families have won 13 verdicts in 15 trials in these post-Engle cases, including five in March and April, according to Edward Sweda, senior staff attorney for the anti-smoking Tobacco Products Liability Project.

The jurors in Gainesville yesterday returned a verdict of $10.8 million in compensatory damages plus $80 million in punitive damages, Prysock said. Because jurors found Townsend 49 percent responsible for his illness and death, R.J. Reynolds must pay 51 percent of those damages, or $46.3 million.

“We’re disappointed with the jury’s verdict and plan to appeal,” said R.J. Reynolds spokesman David Howard.

The case is Townsend v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 08-CA-131, Florida Circuit Court (Gainesville).

Reference: R.J. Reynolds Loses $46.3 Million Verdict to Smoker’s Widow by Bob Van Voris (rvanvoris@bloomberg.net), Bloomberg.com, 4/22/2010.

Some related news briefs in Florida:
Florida - jury awards $26.6 million to smoker's widow..;
Florida - 9 year old case, appeals court upholds $24.8 million award..;
Florida - $300 million jury award to former smoker overturned..;
Florida - jury awards $300 million in ex-smoker's suit..;
Florida - tobacco companies ask court to block ruling..;
Florida - plaintiff drops case to avoid paying legal fees for Philip Morris USA..;
R.J. Reynolds to appeal plaintiff's award of $30 million..;
R.J. Reynolds loses Florida court trial - widow gets $30 million..;
Broward County Florida jury awards widow of smoker $1.5 million..