Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins jury verdict in Rohr ''Engle progeny'' lawsuit

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

In October 2010, Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was lead defendant for the industry in this wrongful death case where a state court jury in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida returned a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds and three other defendants in this "Engle progeny" lawsuit. After two and a half weeks of trial, the jury deliberated approximately eight hours over two days before reaching its verdict, which found R.J. Reynolds and the other defendants zero percent responsible for causing the decedent's death.

The plaintiff in Rohr, acting as personal representative for his deceased father (who had smoked cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds) asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, and breach of express and implied warranty. He argued that his father was a member of the class decertified by the Florida Supreme Court in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006), and that he was therefore entitled to the benefit of certain generalized findings made by a jury in the course of the Engle class action trial in 1999. Although the jury in this bifurcated trial first determined that the smoker (in this case the plaintiff's father) qualified as a member of the Engle class, the jury ultimately found that the smoker was 100 percent responsible for his injuries and awarded no damages.

At the time, the Rohr verdict marked the sixth defense verdict in a row in "Engle progeny" lawsuits in Florida. Jones Day served as trial counsel for R.J. Reynolds in five of those six cases.

Rohr v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Case No. 2007-CV-34472 (Fla. 17th Cir. Ct.).