Florida Jury Hits R.J. Reynolds With $800,000 Payout in Punitive Damages

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A Florida jury decided that R.J. Reynolds, the second largest tobacco company in the United States, will pay $800,000 in punitive damages to the family of Lillian Kaplan, who died of lung cancer after smoking cigarettes for decades.

The punitive damages will accompany a $1 million compensatory verdict.

The jury issued the verdict in Fort Lauderdale, where the trial was held. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Eric Rosen of Kelley | Uustal, the jury was encouraged to award an additional $5 million.

Rosen pointed out that R.J. Reynolds made about $4.4 million daily in net profits in 2013. “That’s a little more than one day of their profit,” he told jurors, “You’ve been here for about a day for the punitive damages phase. One day of your time, one day of their profit.”

The defendant’s attorney disagreed, telling jurors they should award $200,000 in punitive damages.

The compensatory verdict, which was determined on Thursday, included $228,000 in medical costs, $400,000 for past harm to the victim’s family, and $400,000 for future harm. Both Kaplan and Reynolds were found 50 percent responsible for the damages.

Eric Rosen and Todd McPharlin of Kelley | Uustal represent the plaintiffs.

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