JURY AWARDS $17.5 MILLION IN TRIAL AGAINST RJ REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY AND PHILIP MORRIS
MIAMI – February 12, 2018 – During a three week trial in Miami-Dade County, Florida, it was argued to a jury that the cigarette industry, including its two largest members, Defendants R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris, conspired for almost 50 years to conceal the truth about the dangers of cigarettes to the American public.
The case is one of thousands coming from the Engle Florida class-action lawsuit originally filed in 1994. The class-action plaintiffs in the original Engle case were victorious after a lengthy trial in Miami-Dade County. The case ultimately reached the Florida Supreme Court where the class was decertified. However, the Court ruled that the Engle cases could be tried individually by each class member. The class members would be able to utilize the original jury’s findings including the facts that nicotine in cigarettes is addictive; smoking causes diseases like lung cancer; the defendants were negligent; and the defendants concealed and hid the dangers of smoking cigarettes.
The evidence presented in the Gloger case showed that the cigarette defendants knew they were manufacturing and selling a defective and unreasonably dangerous product, which a vast majority of consumers were unaware about for decades. The plaintiff alleged the cigarette defendants fraudulently withheld the truth about the dangers of cigarettes even when they knew cigarettes were dangerous. The plaintiffs also argued that the evidence showed the cigarette defendants attacked the public health community at every turn when the truth about the dangers of cigarettes was becoming clear over the years. Additionally, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants created a culture that depicted cigarettes as glamorous, fun, healthy, and cool. All of this led millions of Americans to begin and continue smoking through the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Even as the truth about the dangers of this product became more apparent throughout the years, the defendants spent billions of dollars attacking the truth, creating doubt and confusion to the point of utilizing psychological crutch as a strategy to keep smokers hooked.
Surprisingly, much of the defendants’ efforts were directed towards children. The plaintiff explained to the jury that the defendants’ reason to target children was for the purpose of getting consumers addicted to the product from an early age, thereby increasing and sustaining profits as older smokers quit or passed away.
One such child who got addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine was Irene Gloger. The plaintiff argued that the behavior of the cigarette defendants caused or contributed to cause Irene Gloger to begin smoking as a child at age 14. Ultimately, by age 16, Irene Gloger was addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine and continued to smoke regularly until the mid 1990’s. She died in 1996 from lung cancer. She is survived by her husband, Ken Gloger, and her two children Melissa Gloger Weitzenfeld and Ryan Gloger.
The jury rendered a verdict finding Irene Gloger was addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine which was a legal cause of her lung cancer and death. The jury found both defendants, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris Inc., responsible and that compensatory and punitive damages were warranted for the reprehensible conduct of the defendant cigarette companies. The total jury award was $17.5 million.
“These cigarette/tobacco companies lied, cheated and stole from the American people for over 45 years,” said Stuart Ratzan, attorney for this case. “When their conspiracy ended, they found themselves on a perch no other product manufacturer ever has and hopefully never will: they are legally permitted to sell a defective and unreasonably dangerous product. Cigarettes not only injure, but also kill over half of daily smokers. There are safer ways to deliver nicotine but none more profitable than the cigarette.” stated Ratzan.
Ratzan added, “To this day the cigarette companies continue to put profits light years ahead of safety. Makes you wonder how it could be so and how we tolerate this industry living by its own set of rules.”
The plaintiff was represented by Stuart N. Ratzan and Stuart J. Weissman of Ratzan Law Group, P.A., Miami, Florida. Ratzan Law Group was assisted by the law firms Crabtree & Auslander and Zebersky Payne LLP firm.
Ratzan Law Group, PA is a boutique trial practice with major focus on helping individuals, families and consumers affected by negligence and wrong doing of others. With years of experience, each attorney works side by side with their clients to provide the best legal process to the case. The firm focuses its practice on medical malpractice, product liability and commercial trials. For additional information, call (305) 374-6366 or log on to www.rwblawyers.com. Connect via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.