In March 2010, a Broward County jury awarded a $26.2 million settlement to plaintiff Robin Cohen, whose 68-year-old husband died of lung cancer in 1994. Based on the decision that lung cancer is a smoking-related disease, cigarette manufacturers R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris have been ordered to pay $13.3 million dollars each in punitive damages. Both companies plan to appeal the verdict.
The decision is the latest in the “Engle progeny” lawsuits, which refers to the case of Engle vs. R.J. Reynolds, in which a Florida jury ruled that cigarettes cause lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases.
This case made way for one of the largest product liability lawsuits in American history. As a result of that class action case, tobacco companies were ordered to pay $145 billion in punitive damages to sick smokers.
After the Florida Supreme Court dismissed the Engle award in 2006, denying the claims of nearly 700,000 plaintiffs, thousands of smokers have proceeded with individual lawsuits instead. The Cohen settlement is the 11th of these cases to be won over the last 13 months.
A Phillip Morris spokesman has said that the cigarette manufacturer will appeal most of these individual cases as well. Regardless, the success of these cases demonstrates that despite what may seem like insurmountable odds-i.e., taking on a giant corporation with deep pockets-individual product liability lawsuits can be an effective way of collecting damages in the event of a wrongful death.
The Central Florida product liability lawyers at Lilly, O’Toole & Brown understand the complexities involved in pursuing damages in product liability cases. We are committed to protecting your best interests and helping you collect the compensation you and your family need and deserve to rebuild and move on with your lives. Contact our firm today to schedule your consultation; (863) 533-5525.