Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds resolves hundreds of Engle progeny cases in Florida federal courts

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On February 25, 2015, Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, along with Philip Morris USA and Lorillard Tobacco Company, entered into an agreement to resolve virtually all Engle progeny cases pending and not yet tried in the Florida federal courts. These individual smoking and health cases arose out of the so-called Engle class action in Florida.

Jones Day partners Elli Leibenstein (Chicago) and Stephanie Parker (Atlanta) negotiated the deal on behalf of R.J. Reynolds. Other members of the settlement team were Greg Katsas (Washington), John Yarber (Atlanta), David Alden (Cleveland), and Steve Beresheim (Atlanta).

Under the terms of the agreement, R.J. Reynolds will pay $42.5 million to resolve these federal cases. Philip Morris will pay an equal amount and Lorillard will pay $15 million. The agreement only covers cases pending in federal court and does not apply to the cases pending against R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris, and Lorillard in the state courts across Florida.

"This agreement presented a unique opportunity to essentially close out the federal docket, and we are pleased to put the federal Engle litigation behind us," said Jeff Raborn, vice president and assistant general counsel for R.J. Reynolds. "With respect to the cases pending in state court, we will continue to defend them vigorously, which includes appealing adverse verdicts."

The federal court agreement is subject to the approval of all of the individual plaintiffs in the cases covered by the agreement, and will not become final unless all agree to participate or the parties otherwise agree. All further activity in federal court will be stayed pending implementation and approval of the agreement. The agreement does not apply to cases in federal court that have already been tried or are pending on appeal.

The Firm has represented R.J. Reynolds in smoking and health litigation since 1985 and has coordinated the defense of Engle and its progeny cases in state and federal courts in Florida since 1994.