Cases & Deals

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

Clients R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Jones Day obtained another win on behalf of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in Pickett v. R.J. Reynolds, the third “Engle progeny” lawsuit tried to verdict in federal court. On March 26, 2012, after two weeks of trial and over thirteen hours of deliberation, a jury in Jacksonville, Florida returned a defense verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds. The plaintiff, acting as a personal representative for his deceased father (who had smoked cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds) asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy. 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), after a year-long trial in 1999. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision allowed putative class members to initiate individual law suits against cigarette manufacturers, with certain generalized findings from the 1999 class action trial to be given an unspecified “res judicata effect.” Over 9,000 plaintiffs now have cases pending in the state and federal courts of Florida. Although the jury in the Pickett trial concluded that the decedent was an Engle class member and found in Plaintiff’s favor on his strict liability claim, the jury ultimately determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to any monetary damages.

Pickett v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Case No. 3:09-cv-10116 (M.D. Fla., Jacksonville Division)

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