A Florida Jury began deliberation on Wednesday to determine whether
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. played a part in the death of a long-time smoker and lung cancer patient,
Todd McPharlin, who represents Kaplan’s family, implored jurors to
award up to $8 million along with punitive damages, which would set into
motion a second trial phase.
Kaplan, who died from lung cancer at age 84 in 2012, smoked two packs of
cigarettes every day for 50 years. Now, jurors will determine whether
R.J. Reynolds hid the dangers of smoking from Kaplan.
McPharlin said, “[R.J. Reynolds] actually went out there and said
‘There’s nothing wrong with our product.’”
Although Kaplan tried to quit smoking several times in the 1960s, she was
never able to go more than a week and a half without smoking until 1994,
when she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In
2012, Kaplan was diagnosed with lung cancer after suffering a stroke.
Later that year, she died.
R.J. Reynolds Claims Kaplan “Lived a Long Life”
In response to the claims of Kaplan’s family, R.J. Reynolds’
lawyer made two claims: That the statute of limitations bars Kaplan’s
claims and secondly, that Kaplan had a long life, outliving all of her siblings.
According to R.J. Reynolds, Kaplan should have identified the signs of
COPD before 1990 because her husband died of the same disease.
In response, McPharlin said, “The fact that she was 84 means she
lived long enough and it doesn't matter that [R.J. Reynolds] took
One of Thousands of Tobacco Cases Arising From Engle Class Action
Kaplan’s case is one of thousands emerging after the landmark Engle
class action lawsuit against tobacco companies. Although the Florida Supreme
Court decertified the $145 billion verdict, it allowed up to 700,000 people
to file individual suits, pursuing compensation under the presumption
that smoking cigarettes can lead to certain diseases, and that tobacco
companies failed to disclose this information to consumers.
Read more about this case from Law360 here.