February 13, 2011 - - A Florida jury ordered tobacco company R.J. Reynolds on Friday, February 11th to pay $260,000 in damages to a Tampa man who developed cancer from smoking, court officials said. The verdict was the latest among thousands of lawsuits against cigarette makers, known as "Engle progeny" cases, now working their way through courts in Florida.
Leroy Kirkland, age 71, sued Reynolds American, Inc. d/b/a R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company on a products liability theory claiming that he developed cancer and emphysema from smoking cigarettes manufactured and sold by Defendant. Plaintiff smoked Pall Malls. Kirkland, 71, had sought punitive damages of more than $10 billion
Outcome: Plaintiff's verdict for $100,000 but found him 90% at fault reducing his compensatory damages to $10,000 and $250,000 in punitive damages. "We came up a little short, but we won," said Willie Gray, a lawyer for Kirkland. He expected R.J. Reynolds to appeal the verdict.
The "Engle progeny" cases stem from Engle versus R.J. Reynolds, a landmark class-action lawsuit originally filed against cigarette makers in 1994. Background: The original Florida lawsuit was filed in 1994 by a Miami Beach pediatrician, Dr. Howard Engle, who had smoked for decades and couldn't quit. The class of smokers was estimated at up to 700,000 when the giant $145 billion award was issued in 2000. (Dr. Howard A. Engle, the veteran pediatrician who lent his name to a landmark class action suit against Big Tobacco, dies..)
Six years later, a Florida jury found that cigarettes cause lung cancer and other illness and ordered the tobacco companies to pay a record $145 billion in punitive damages to sick smokers. But the Florida Supreme Court threw out the award in 2006 and decertified the original cases of about 700,000 Florida smokers, but ruled the individual cases could proceed. That allowed for thousands of individual cases to move forward through Florida's courts. (Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Lawsuits..)
References: Florida jury awards $260,000 to Tampa smoker, Reporting by Robert Green in Tampa and Kevin Gray in Miami; editing by Pascal Fletcher and Andre Grenon, Reuters, 2/11/2011; Case Style: Leroy Kirkland v. Reynolds American, Inc. d/b/a Reynolds Tobacco Company, MoreLaw.com, 2/11/2011.
Some related news briefs from Florida court cases:
Florida - tobacco cases clog dockets of courts..;
Florida - jury snaps tobacco’s recent winning streak with an $80 million award..;
Florida - jury returns verdict in favor of Philip Morris USA, 5th consecutive time..;
Florida is tide turning? - 4th time in 2-weeks Philip Morris USA wins court cases..;
Florida - PM USA to challenge verdict in the Piendle v. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA case..;
Florida - tobacco companies ordered to pay $2.2 million to widow of smoker..;
Florida - individual cases against big tobacco can move forward, can rely on Engle jury findings..;
Florida - jury awards smoker $21M from Philp Morris USA.;
Florida - can big tobacco survive all these lawsuits they continue to lose??;
Florida - big tobacco loses another case..;
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...