A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal from South Florida on July 15 upheld a $7.25 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) in a lawsuit filed by a man who smoked two packs of cigarettes a day by age 17 and later suffered from coronary artery disease.
The panel rejected RJR’s arguments that the plaintiff had not proven an allegation related to the tobacco company fraudulently concealing the dangers of smoking. The appeal came after a Miami-Dade County jury awarded $5 million in compensatory damages and $2.25 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff.
“In sum, not only did [the plaintiff] Rouse present evidence that he was exposed throughout his life to the tobacco companies’ broad-based, misleading advertising campaign, he also testified that his decision to smoke Winston filtered cigarettes was influenced by the way the tobacco companies promoted filtered cigarettes in their advertisements,” the panel said in a statement.
“From this evidence, a reasonable jury could have inferred that Rouse might have never started smoking Winston filtered cigarettes or would have quit earlier had he known true facts about filtered cigarettes.”