Cases & Deals

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

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On October 20, 2011, after two and a half weeks of trial, a state court jury in Miami, Florida returned a verdict in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and another defendant in this "Engle progeny" wrongful death lawsuit. The jury deliberated approximately four hours before reaching its verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds and the other defendant.

Plaintiff Toni Junious claimed her mother had developed emphysema and died as a result of a 38 year smoking history, which included three Reynold's brands. She argued that her mother was a member of the class decertified by the Florida Supreme Court in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006). The Engle action was filed as a purported class action against R.J. Reynolds and other cigarette manufacturer defendants on May 5, 1994. Over the Engle defendants' objection, on November 21, 1996, a class was certified to include "[a]ll Florida citizens and residents, and their survivors, who have suffered, presently suffer or who have died from diseases and medical conditions caused by their addiction to cigarettes that contain nicotine." The Florida Supreme Court eventually decertified the Engle class on a going-forward basis, but stated that members of the decertified class could initiate individual actions against the Engle defendants. The Court declared that in those individual actions, certain generalized findings from the 1999 class action trial in the Engle case were to be given "res judicata effect" as to members of the class. The jury in Junious determined plaintiff had not proven that addiction to cigarettes was a legal cause of Ms. Junious' mother's emphysema, and on that basis returned a defense verdict without reaching other issues. Reynolds was represented at trial by Robert Faxon and Edward Carter.

Junious, Toni, et al. v. R. J. Reynolds and Philip Morris USA, Case No. 07-23586 CA 04 (Fla. 11th Cir. Ct.)