An 81-year-old Florida man has been awarded $6,061,120.47 in compensatory damages from cigarette makers Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds for the loss of his wife, Carole, from a smoking-related disease. Stanley Martin, represented by Kelley/Uustal attorneys Eric Rosen, Todd McPharlin, Robert Kelley, and Kimberly Wald, lost his wife in 2004 after a battle with coronary heart disease and lung cancer caused by more than five decades of heavy cigarette smoking. She was 64 years old and had smoked two packs of cigarettes a day since she was 12 years old.
The lawsuit alleged that both tobacco companies were guilty of a decades-long conspiracy to hide the health risks and addictiveness of smoking from the public.
“Carole’s history and premature death was not unusual for someone from her generation,” said Eric Rosen. “When Carole was growing up, Phillip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, along with the other cigarette makers, marketed cigarette smoking as safe, fun, healthy, and glamorous despite what these manufacturers knew internally about the serious health risks of smoking. They used world-class athletes, movie stars, and even Santa Claus to market their products, giving consumers, including children, the impression that a cigarette was not a health threat,” said Mr. Rosen.
Carole switched to Merit brand cigarettes, manufactured by Philip Morris, in the mid-1970s because they were heavily marketed as low in tar and nicotine. “Carole was convinced that she was switching to a safer cigarette that would actually help her quit smoking,” said Mr. Rosen. “Philip Morris and Reynolds knew that consumers believed that ‘filtered’ and ‘Light’ were actually safer when in fact they were not and delivered just as much tar and nicotine as ‘regular’ or ‘unfiltered’ cigarettes. The jury saw internal, once secret, records of the defendants which established that the cigarette industry knew with a certainty that filters, low tar, and lights were a scam and provided no real health benefit to the smoker,” said Mr. McPharlin.
Mr. McPharlin continues: “The evidence we introduced at trial established that Phillip Morris and Reynolds targeted children, who were critical to the success of their business, and looked at children and teens as ‘replacement’ smokers for the ones who were able to quit or died.”
The six-woman jury agreed that Philip Morris USA and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company were responsible for the suffering and death of Carole Martin as well as decades of deceptive marketing. The jury awarded $5,411,120.47 in compensatory damages, $111,000 in medical expenses, and $650,000 in punitive damages. Philip Morris was found 46% responsible and R.J. Reynolds 22% responsible for the damages, which included intentional misconduct and gross negligence leading to Carole Martin’s death.