Jurors ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA to pay $148 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award in the death of a Florida smoker to $157 million.
Friday’s decision, which imposes $74.1 million each against R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris, is added to a $9.2 million compensatory award handed down last week for the respiratory disease-related death of Edward Caprio.
The lawsuit is among thousands of claims that stem from Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., a 1994 Florida state court class action case against U.S. tobacco companies. The state’s supreme court ultimately decertified the class but ruled that “Engle progeny” cases may be tried individually.
Caprio had originally filed suit against the companies while suffering from respiratory disease but died three years after a partial verdict in a 2015 trial against the tobacco companies left his claims unresolved.
The award is the largest in years in Florida’s Engle progeny class of tobacco cases. In July 2014, jurors in Pensacola handed down a $23.6 billion verdict against R.J. Reynolds for Michael Johnson’s 1996 cancer death. That award was ultimately thrown out on appeal.