WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA (August 21, 2009) – The Florida law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley (Searcy Denney) announced today that a jury has awarded $7,800,000 in compensatory damages to an Escambia County, Florida man following the death of his wife due to her addiction to nicotine contained in cigarettes.
Plaintiff Franklin D. Campbell, Sr., sued RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris USA, and Liggett Group on behalf of his late wife, Betty Jean Campbell, who died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Pensacola at age 64. The trial was held in Circuit Court of First Judicial Circuit in Escambia County, Florida.
Following a month long trial, the jury found that the cigarette companies were legally responsible for Mrs. Campbell’s death. The jury also concluded that Mrs. Campbell was partially at fault, which will reduce the jury’s total verdict by about one half.
“Mr. Campbell expressed satisfaction and a deep sense of gratitude that the jury understood the power that nicotine had over his wife,” said David Sales, of the Searcy Denney law firm. Mrs. Campbell started smoking at age 15 in 1957 and was unable to quit smoking despite repeated attempts. She died in 2006
The case is one of thousands that remain pending in the Florida courts following the Florida Supreme Court’s landmark decision in 2006, which paved the way for individual suits by smokers who had been part of the Engle class action. Sales said that while this verdict is important, “people should not forget that nicotine and cigarettes still claim the lives of 440,000 in this country annually and thousands of otherEngle class members are waiting for their day in court.” The Engle class action was limited to Florida smokers who developed smoking-related diseases like COPD and lung cancer, prior to November of 1996.
In addition to Mr. Sales, Mr. Campbell was also represented by Searcy Denney attorneys William A Norton, and Laurie J Briggs.
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