The tobacco company’s payout was a significant victory for the plaintiffs and it could have an impact on similar cases.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was held partly responsible for the death of John Price, a 74-year-old man who died of emphysema in 2010.
Attorneys from ClassAction.com filed the case on behalf of Mr. Price’s family. They alleged that R.J. Reynolds, which makes brands including Camel and Lucky Strike, was responsible for Mr. Price’s nicotine addiction and mortality over much of the twentieth century by concealing the hazards of smoking.
Take on Big Tobacco
For 25 years, the tobacco industry denied health risks.
Cigarettes were shown to be a primary cause of lung illness in research published as early as the 1950s. Tobacco firms were forced to publish the Surgeon General’s warnings on cigarette boxes beginning in 1965.
Despite this, until the 1990s, the tobacco industry actively disputed that smoking cigarettes constituted a health hazard.
Tobacco firms advertised smoking as a leisure pastime throughout the twentieth century, obfuscating the highly addictive nature of nicotine, the major constituent. They also grouped smoking’s habit-forming effects with chocolate intake or online shopping, despite the fact that none of these vices had the same lethal consequences as tobacco.
“The deception network was huge, well-funded, and well designed,” Morgan & Morgan attorney Keith Mitnik said.
R.J.’s “Ideal Customer” was John Price. Reynolds
Asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema are all symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which creates obstructions in the airways. Smoking is responsible for eight out of ten COPD-related fatalities.
Smokers who begin smoking when their lungs are still growing, such as Mr. Price, are more likely to acquire COPD-related problems later in life.
Mr. Price’s death is a terrible illustration of nicotine’s addictive power. He began smoking as a teenager and smoked for more than 30 years, averaging three packs a day before dying to emphysema.
“John Price wasn’t just some obnoxious smoker… For [R.J. Reynolds], he is exactly what it was all about.”
In his final comments, Mitnik said, “John Price was not some renegade smoker.” “For [R.J. Reynolds], he is exactly what it was all about. Someone who would smoke nonstop all day since that’s where the money is.”
“‘We’ve changed,’ they say… It’s fresh faces, but the issue remains the same. They still maintain a firm grasp on nicotine dependence.”
Following the Engle decision, a slew of lawsuits have been filed.
Florida has a long history of impressive victories against Big Tobacco. A class action case (Engle v. Liggett Group Inc.) in 1994 found tobacco firms guilty of concealing the harmful consequences of smoking during the majority of the twentieth century, culminating in a $145 billion award. Despite the fact that the jury’s conclusions were decertified in 2006, people may still utilize them in court if they can show a relationship between nicotine addiction and a smoking-related ailment.
Within a week, Mr. Price’s complaint was one of three Engle progeny claims brought against R.J. Reynolds.
Within a week, Mr. Price’s complaint was one of three Engle progeny claims brought against R.J. Reynolds. Julius Smith’s wife received $3 million from the corporation when he died of emphysema. R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris were each awarded $9.1 million in damages for the death of Dennis Oshinsky, who died of lung cancer.
Start a Lawsuit
Mr. Mitnik, who won a $90.8 million judgment against R.J. Reynolds in 2010, no longer believes in the company’s ability to reform.
“They admit it’s addicting,” he said. “But that’s it, and it’s all sugar-coated and downplayed after that.” “Anything except honestly admitting the issue is the problem.”