Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds wins complete defense verdict in Durrance "Engle progeny" trial

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On February 8, 2017, Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company received a complete defense verdict in a wrongful death action. The plaintiff in this case, Ms. Angela Sue Durrance, claimed that her deceased mother, Ms. Totsie Fleming, was a member of the class of smokers decertified by the Florida Supreme Court in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006) and therefore was entitled to the benefit of certain generalized findings of fact made by a jury in the course of the Engle class action trial. Plaintiff asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy. Plaintiff asked for $6 million in compensatory damages for the four adult children of the decedent, along with punitive damages.

After a two week trial and three hours of deliberations, the Highlands County, Florida jury found that Plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations because Ms. Fleming knew, or should have known in the exercise of reasonable care, that she had COPD caused by smoking prior to May 5, 1990.

Durrance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Case No. 11-26-GCS (Fla. 10th Cir.)