From News Service of Florida: COURT REJECTS AWARD IN COSTLY TOBACCO CASE
A state appeals court Tuesday sided with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and ordered a new trial in a case in which the family of a dead smoker was awarded $28.6 million in damages. The ruling was the second time the 1st District Court of Appeal has rejected a damage award in the Levy County lawsuit filed by Diane Webb, whose father, James Horner, died of lung cancer.
In the first instance, the appeals court tossed out a jury award of $7.2 million in compensatory damages and $72 million in punitive damages, finding that the award was the “product of passion” rather than evidence. When the case was sent back to the circuit court, the totals were reduced to $3.6 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. But a three-judge panel of the appeals court Tuesday ruled that R.J. Reynolds was entitled to a new trial on the damages after it objected to those reduced amounts.
The case is one of thousands filed against tobacco companies in Florida — a type of lawsuit known in the legal world as an “Engle progeny” case.