Florida Jury Awards Widow Of Smoker $25 Million In Punitive Damages

MIAMI - (Mealey's) A Florida jury on March 6 ordered cigarette maker Lorillard Inc. to pay the widow of a smoker $25 million in punitive damages, one week after the jury awarded her $16 million in compensatory damages (Dorothy Alexander v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., No. 07-46830-ca-10, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).  

(Compensatory damages verdict slip. Document #04-120321-007V.  Punitive damages verdict slip. Document #04-120321-008V.) 

Trial was conducted for a month before Circuit Court Judge Peter Lopez of the 11th Judicial Circuit for Dade County.   

Pursuant to Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc. (945 So. 2d 1246 [Fla. 2006]) [enhanced opinion available to lexis.com subscribers], Dorothy Alexander sued several tobacco companies, alleging that her husband, Coleman Alexander, was addicted to the nicotine in their cigarettes and that his addiction was a legal cause of his death.  The jury found for the plaintiff on both claims, as well as on negligence, a defective and unreasonably dangerous product, reliance on incomplete information and that Lorillard concealed the health effects and addictive nature of cigarettes.  

The jury awarded $20 million in compensatory damages on Feb. 29 but reduced that to $16 million based on an assignment of 20 percent of responsibility to the decedent.  

Dorothy Alexander and Coleman Alexander were married for 38 years when he died of lung cancer in 1995 at 59 years old, according to Alex Alvarez, one of her attorneys.  He owned a cleaning business, he said.  Coleman began smoking in 1950, when he was 14 years old.  He smoked Kent brand cigarettes.  

Lorillard was the sole defendant when the case went to trial. 

Dorothy Alexander is represented by Alvarez of the Alvarez Law Firm in Coral Gables, Fla., and Gary Paige of Trop & Ameen in Miami.  Lorillard is represented by Edward Cheffy of Cheffy Passidomo in Naples, Fla.  

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