BRONSON, Fla. - (Mealey's) The tobacco industry's eight-verdict winning streak in Engle progeny cases came to an abrupt halt on Nov. 15 in a Florida state court with an $80 million verdict on behalf of the daughter of a smoker who died from lung cancer after smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Dianne Webb v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 38-2009 CA 1285, Fla. Cir., 8th Jud. Cir.).
The jury awarded Dianne Webb $8 million for the wrongful death of James Cayce Horner and imposed punitive damages of $72 million. The jury found Horner 10 percent responsible for his death and R.J. Reynolds 90 percent responsible. It found that RJR was negligent, that cigarettes were an unreasonably dangerous product placed on the market and that RJR's concealment or omission of the health effects of smoking were a legal cause of Horner's death.
Webb filed suit after the death of her father, and the case came before Judge Stanley Griffis. Her father died in 1996 at age 78 "after a long battle against lung cancer," plaintiff firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley said in a press release. He had started smoking in 1934 at age 17 and smoked for more than 60 years until he died March 11, 1996, Searcy Denney said. Horner smoked the Reynolds brands Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, Kool, Camel and Winston, the firm said.
Horner began smoking when cigarette manufacturers openly marketed cigarettes to children and teenagers, the firm said.
[Editor's Note: Full coverage will be in the November issue of Mealey's Litigation Report: Tobacco. In the meantime, the jury slip is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844. Document #04-101117-018V. For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]
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