Kelley | Uustal Attorneys Win $10.6M Verdict for Family of Late-Life Smoker

Kelley | Uustal attorneys Eric S. Rosen and Kimberly L. Wald secured a $10.6 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on behalf of the family of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

Although the case was part of the Engle progeny, it was a rare one because the deceased, Janice Hamilton, started smoking at 31 years old, which is significantly later than most claimants. This meant Rosen and Wald couldn’t use any of the well-known industry documents showing that Big Tobacco targeted children and teens. Rosen knew this would be a challenge, but as he told the Daily Business Review, “the idea is that whether you’re 15, or you’re 31 or 40, and you pick up a cigarette, there’s a very high potential for getting addicted.”

The jury determined Hamilton was addicted to the cigarettes that caused her cancer. While they found her to be 22.5% at fault, R.J. Reynolds was assigned the remainder of the blame. Each of the Hamilton’s three adult children were awarded $2 million, as well as a total of $4.6 million in punitive damages.

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