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RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris – Tobacco Hit With $3.3 Million Verdict

10/21/2013
Firm News
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An Alachua County jury awarded $3,375,000 against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA, Inc. for the wrongful death of John Huish, who died of lung cancer after 46 years of smoking Lucky Strike, Camel and Marlboro cigarettes.  The verdict includes $3,000,000 in punitive damages.

David J. Sales, James W. Gustafson, of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, along with Gabriel F. Zambrano represented Huish’s widow, Anna Lou, now 81. The plaintiff’s lawyers showed that Mr. Huish started smoking as a teen in rural Arizona, 20 years before the first warning labels ever appeared on cigarette packs.  Under the standard required by the Florida Supreme Court’s “Engle” decision, the plaintiff needed to show that Huish was addicted to nicotine and nicotine addiction caused his death.

“The jury’s work in this case was amazing,” Sales said. “It’s hard work to try and understand how much things have changed–and the need to punish these defendants for their outrages of the past, including hawking cigarettes to children.”

“Mr. Huish is another example of our greatest generation, someone who started smoking as a teen, and was cut down by addiction to nicotine,” said Gustafson.

This marks five straight verdicts in tobacco suits by the lawyers for Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.  “A few months ago, the industry thought the legal landscape had changed,” Sales said. “We don’t think so.”

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