Florida Appeal Court Upholds $33M Judgment Against Lorillard Tobacco Co., Denying Its Request for a New Trial, Reports Parker Waichman LLP and Co-counsel

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Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has upheld a $33 million judgment against Lorillard Tobacco Co., finding on appeal that its arguments are without merit, reports Parker Waichman LLP and its co-counsel, which obtained the original verdict on behalf of a Miami woman whose husband had died from smoking-related lung cancer.

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On appeal, Lorillard basically reiterates its post-trial claims of error. Additionally, Lorillard now claims that it is entitled to a new trial on compensatory damages rather than the remittitur that it sought and received post-trial.

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers, and its co-counsel are pleased to report that Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has today, Sept. 4, 2013, upheld a $33 million judgment against Lorillard Tobacco Co., according to court documents. The appeal court also rebuffed Lorillard’s request for a new trial, as well as its charges that the original lower court should have replaced a juror and failed to reduce what the tobacco company considered was an excessive award (Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Dorothy Alexander, Case No.: 3D12-1593).

“On appeal, Lorillard basically reiterates its post-trial claims of error,” wrote the Third District Court of Appeal in the court documents. “Additionally, Lorillard now claims that it is entitled to a new trial on compensatory damages rather than the remittitur that it sought and received post-trial. Because we find Lorillard’s multiple arguments on appeal without merit; the remitted compensatory damages award in the amount of $10 million and the punitive damages award in the amount of $25 million are neither excessive nor unconstitutional; and the compensatory and punitive damages awards are supported by the manifest weight of the evidence, we affirm.”

Alexander was represented during the appeal by Jordan Chaikin of Parker Waichman LLP, Alex Alvarez of the Alvarez Law Firm, Gary Paige of Gordon & Doner PA, John Mills of The Mills Firm PA and Robert S. Glazier.

On appeal, Lorillard claimed that the trial court should have removed a juror who was acquainted with the daughter of plaintiff Dorothy Alexander, which was learned following voir dire, according to court documents. Another claim was centered on whether Lorillard had properly objected to the trial court's remittitur of the original compensatory damages award. Lorillard also asked that the $25 million punitive damages awarded against it be vacated, and that it was entitled to a new trial because it did not accept the trial court's $10 million remittitur of the compensatory damages.

Florida’s appeal court ruled against the tobacco company in all instances, according to court documents.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Dorothy Alexander’s late husband, Coleman Alexander, who died in 1995 from lung cancer after 40 years of smoking cigarettes, including Lorillard's Kent brand, said the court documents. The suit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Florida, General Jurisdiction Division. According to court documents, a jury found in February 2012 that Lorillard’s negligence had played a contributing role in Coleman Alexander's death, noting that the company’s cigarettes were defective and dangerous but also that Lorillard had not included health information on its cigarette packaging (Case No.: 07-46830-CA01).

Lorillard was held 80 percent responsible for Alexander's death, the jury said.

The Alexander lawsuit was one of thousands of Florida tobacco claims to arise from the Engle case, a large class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Florida citizens who suffered from smoking-related illnesses in 1994 (Case No.: No. SC03-1856, Florida Supreme Court). In 2000, a jury returned a verdict for the Engle plaintiffs, including $145 billion in punitive damages. But in 2004, an appellate court overturned the jury’s decision and reversed the award. In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the appellate court decision and de-certified the class. However, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the original suit would be allowed to file individual lawsuits against tobacco companies.

Parker Waichman LLP is a leading personal injury law firm that represents plaintiffs nationwide. The firm has offices in New York, New Jersey, Florida and Washington, D.C. For more than two decades, Parker Waichman LLP has assisted thousands of clients in receiving fair compensation for injuries resulting from defective drugs, medical devices and other products. Free case evaluations are also available by calling 1 800 LAW INFO (1-800-529-4636).

Contact:
Parker Waichman LLP
Jordan Chaikin, Partner
1+(800) LAW-INFO
1+(800) 529-4636
http://www.yourlawyer.com

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Gary Falkowitz
Parker Waichman LLP

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