Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins jury verdict in Davis ''Engle progeny'' trial

Client(s) R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On June 25, 2014, following eight days of trial and less than four hours of deliberation, a jury in Ocala, 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 a member of the Engle class.

The plaintiff in the Davis case was a 74 year-old former smoker of cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds and co-defendant Philip Morris USA and was represented by Kenneth Byrd of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein. The plaintiff sought millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages on claims of strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy, arguing that she 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 Engle 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.

Davis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 3:09-cv-11447 (M.D. Fla., Ocala Div.)