Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds prevails in closely watched emphysema-related Florida lawsuit

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On March 28, 2011, after two weeks of trial, a state court jury in Green Cove Springs, Florida returned a verdict in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris USA in the closely watched emphysema-related case. R.J. Reynolds was the lead defendant. Plaintiff was a Vietnam veteran who began smoking at age 15 in 1963 and developed emphysema in 1997. Medical causation was stipulated. The plaintiff asserted claims for fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to conceal, negligence, and strict liability. The case turned on the question of whether the plaintiff, regardless of technical addiction, smoked as a matter of choice and was responsible for that choice. That question, in turn, depended on the cross-examination of the plaintiff and of internationally well-known experts. The jury deliberated for approximately two-and-a-half hours before returning a complete defense verdict. It found that plaintiff was addicted, but that plaintiff's addiction was not the legal cause of his emphysema.

Oliva v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. (State Court of Green Cover Springs, Fla.)