Cases & Deals

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

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On March 29, 2013, following five days of trial and approximately four hours of deliberation, a jury in Jacksonville, Florida returned a verdict in favor of R.J. Reynolds and Liggett Group LLC in a wrongful death action, assigning 100% of the fault to the smoker. Jones Day represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in this "Engle progeny" lawsuit.

The plaintiff in the Fazekas case, acting as personal representative for her deceased father (who had smoked cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds and Liggett), asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, and punitive damages. She argued that her 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 in that case 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." This resulted in more than 9,000 plaintiffs filing cases in the state and federal courts of Florida. To date, more than 80 Engle progeny cases have been tried in state or federal court.

The Jones Day trial team was led by Atlanta partners Stephanie Parker, David Monde and John Yarber and with assistance from associates Tim Fiorta (Cleveland), Jordon Patterson (Atlanta) and Jason Burnette (Atlanta).

Linda Fazekas, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kenneth Kauffman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3:09-cv-13697 (M.D. Fla., Jacksonville Div.)