$28,795,000 Verdict - Konzelman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Featured in Daily Business Review
Kelley | Uustal attorneys recently obtained a $28.795 million verdict for Alan Konzelman, the widower of Elaine Konzelman, who died at the age of 79 of COPD after smoking cigarettes for most of her life. A Broward jury decided against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company on the grounds that the company’s deceptive marketing played a role in her death. The verdict included $20 million in punitive damages as punishment for the company’s years of efforts to conceal the health effects of smoking while creating and promoting a more addictive product. Alan Konzelman was awarded $8.5 million in compensatory damages, in addition to $295,000 for Elaine’s medical bills.
Attorneys Eric Rosen and Kimberly Wald were able to successfully argue that Mrs. Konzelman’s lifelong addiction was the product of R.J. Reynolds’ efforts to hide the true health risks of cigarettes from its customers. While the tobacco company attempted to argue that Mrs. Konzelman should have known that she had COPD, Rosen and Wald proved that there was no way she could have known what even her doctors did not diagnose until the mid-1990s.
This case was part of the Engle class, the group of Florida smokers whose cases were filed after the Engle tobacco class action was disbanded by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.
Elaine Konzelman was found 15% liable for her disease. According to Rosen, much of the jury’s decision came down to Alan Konzelman’s testimony. “They got to hear about his family and the type of person he was: hardworking, dedicated and genuine,” Rosen said. “I think that credibility was extremely important.”