Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins jury verdict in latest federal "Engle progeny" lawsuit

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Jones Day successfully represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in the latest "Engle progeny" lawsuit tried to verdict in Florida federal court. On February 5, 2013, after ten days of trial, a jury in Fort Myers, Florida returned a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris USA in Wilder v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, et al. The jury deliberated approximately two and a half hours before returning a complete defense verdict in this wrongful death action.

The plaintiff in Wilder, acting as personal representative for her deceased mother (who had smoked cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris) asserted claims for negligence, strict liability, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy to fraudulently conceal. 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), after a year-long trial in 1999. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision allowed putative class members to initiate individual lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers, with certain generalized findings from the 1999 class action trial to be given an unspecified “res judicata effect.” Over 6,000 plaintiffs now have cases pending in the state and federal courts of Florida.

The defense verdict in Wilder is the most recent of five defense verdicts in the eight Engle progeny lawsuits tried to verdict since February 2012 in the Middle District of Florida.

The Jones Day trial team was led by partners Stephanie Parker and David Monde, with assistance from partners John Yarber and Emily Baker, as well as assistance from associates Jason Burnette and Jordon Patterson, (of the Atlanta Office) and Bradley Harrison (of the Cleveland Office).

Edna Wilder, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Jane Hewett v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3:09-cv-10109-FTM- TJC-JBT (M.D. Fla., Fort Myers Div.)