Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins jury verdict in Hargroves trial

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On May 19, 2011, after two weeks of trial, a state court jury in Tampa, Florida returned a verdict in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a wrongful death case. The jury deliberated approximately seven hours over two days before reaching its verdict, finding that the cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds' predecessors in interest (Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation and American Tobacco Company) were not defectively designed and not the legal cause of the decedent's injury and death.

The plaintiff, acting as personal representative for his deceased wife, alleged that his wife began smoking cigarettes in 1963 and developed lung cancer and died as a result of smoking cigarettes manufactured by Brown & Williamson and American Tobacco. The plaintiff asserted claims for negligence and strict liability, alleging that those cigarettes were negligently and defectively designed and caused Mrs. Hargroves' injury and death. The jury returned a complete defense verdict for R.J. Reynolds, finding that there was no negligent or defective design in the cigarettes smoked by Mrs. Hargroves that was a legal cause of her injury and death.

Walter R. Hargroves, as Personal Representative for the Estate of Debra Hargroves v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 05-11472 (Fla. Cir. Ct., 13th Jud. Cir., Hillsborough County)