Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds prevails in appeal of venue decision in Engle progeny lawsuit

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Jones Day represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in an Engle progeny wrongful death action brought by Tammy Frost, daughter of deceased smoker Billy Arant. Mr. Arant lived in Putnam County, Florida and began experiencing symptoms of lung cancer there by early 1995. He was later diagnosed with lung cancer in Gainesville, which is located in Alachua County. At Plaintiff's request, the trial court transferred the suit to Alachua County on the ground that Alachua County was a more convenient forum for the lawsuit.

On appeal, Jones Day persuaded the Fifth District Court of Appeals to reverse. As the Fifth District explained, a case can only be transferred to a forum in which it could originally have been filed. While the Plaintiff argued that the case could originally have been filed in Alachua County because it accrued there upon Mr. Arant's diagnosis, the Fifth District held that, "[f]or purposes of venue, a tort accrues in the county where the plaintiff first suffers injury." Because Mr. Arant first experienced symptoms outside of Alachua County, the trial court erred in transferring the case there.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Tammy L. Frost,as Personal Representative of the Estate of Billy Arant, No. 5D20-1977 (Fla. 5th DCA)