Smoker Awarded $6 Million in Engle Progeny Case

    Photo: Aerial Mike

    A jury in Jacksonville, Florida, USA, awarded a former smoker with lung disease $6 million in a case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., reports The Florida Times-Union.

    The case is part of a crop of lawsuits filed after the Florida Supreme Court decertified a large class action, known as Engle, in 2006 and required smokers to sue individually for injuries that appeared between 1990 and 1996. The recent suit is unusual because it is uncommon for plaintiffs in those cases to be still alive.

    “Many Engle case victims do not live to see case verdicts such as this one, so it’s gratifying that in this instance Mrs. Wydra is indeed here to experience justice served,” said Rod Smith, Partner, Avera & Smith, which helped secure the award, in a statement.

    Born in 1947, Kathleen Wydra became a regular smoker while in high school in the early 1960s and smoked up to two packs of cigarettes per day. She quit smoking in 1998, following a diagnosis of COPD in the mid-1990s.

    Jurors decided that Kathleen Wydra had been negligent in smoking and bore 35 percent of the fault for her injuries, but that R.J. Reynolds carried the other 65 percent of the blame.

    They set the price of those injuries at $1.5 million for suffering, disability and harm already incurred, plus another $1.5 million for suffering still ahead of her.

    They also found that R.J. Reynolds agreed to conceal information about smoking’s harmful effects or its addictive nature, and said the company should pay punitive damages, which accounted for the other $3 million judgment.