Cases & Deals

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

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On December 16, 2014, following two weeks of trial, a jury in Jacksonville, Florida returned a verdict in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in a personal injury action. The plaintiff in Starbuck was a former smoker who asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy. He 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 therefore entitled to the benefit of certain generalized findings made by a jury in the course of the Engle class action trial in 1999. The plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages. After approximately 4 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jury returned a complete defense verdict for Reynolds and co-defendant Philip Morris, finding that the plaintiff was not addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine and thus not a member of the Engle class.

The Jones Day trial team was led by Atlanta partner Emily Baker and Chicago partner José A. Isasi II, with assistance from associates Ed Carter (Columbus), Kevin Riddles (Cleveland), Simon Hansen (Atlanta), and Andrew Pinson (Atlanta).

William Starbuck v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., Case No. 3:09-cv-13250 (M.D. Fla., Jacksonville Division)