Cases & Deals

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

Client(s) R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On January 13, 2014, following five days of trial and approximately five hours of deliberation, a jury in Tampa, Florida returned a verdict in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a personal injury action finding that the smoker was not an Engle class member.

The plaintiff in the Meeker case was an 81 year old former smoker of cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds and was represented by the law firm of Motley Rice LLC. The plaintiff asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, and punitive damages. The plaintiff argued that he was a member of the class decertified by the Florida Supreme Court in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006), and that he was therefore entitled to the benefit of certain generalized findings made by the jury in the course of the Engle class action trial in 1999. The jury returned a complete defense verdict for R.J. Reynolds, finding that the plaintiff's illness (coronary heart disease) was not caused by an addiction to cigarettes containing nicotine, and as a result, the plaintiff did not qualify as a member of the Engle class.

The Jones Day trial team was lead by Atlanta partners John Walker and Emily Baker, with assistance from associates Ed Carter (Columbus), Jackie Pasek (Cleveland), and Brianna McLaughlin (Cleveland).

Meeker v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3:09-cv-12867 (M.D. Fla., Tampa Div.)