Engle Progeny Review for the Week of December 15

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Dec 19, 2014 5:05:53 PM


Willie Gary tells jurors Friday that smoker Andrew Haliburton was a victim of R.J. Reynolds’s marketing tactics, which included decades of misinformation on smoking’s dangers. Gary is representing Dorothy Haliburton, who is suing the tobacco manufacturer for her husband’s COPD-related death. Jurors ultimately found the suit time-barred. 

Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds

West Palm Beach, FL—R.J. Reynolds prevailed in the last Engle progeny suit of 2014 after jurors this afternoon found Dorothy Haliburton's wrongful death suit was time barred. 

Jurors deliberated for more than six hours Friday before concluding that Andrew Haliburton should have known before May 5, 1990 that he suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that was caused by his decades of cigarette smoking.

The suit, brought by Haliburton’s widow, Dorothy, turned on when Haliburton developed COPD, a progressive respiratory disease, and whether he should have connected the disease’s symptoms with his cigarette smoking. Haliburton was diagnosed with COPD in 1994 and died of complications related to the disease four years later. However, the defense contended that Haliburton developed COPD before the May 5, 1990 Engle claim bar date. On Monday, pulmonologist Dr. Leonard Cosmo testified that the severity of Haliburton’s COPD by his diagnosis in 1994 was a tell-tale sign that he had suffered from the disease prior to 1990. “It’s impossible to start in 1990 without COPD, then go through a mild stage, a moderate stage and a severe stage in four years,” Cosmo said.

That testimony, and evidence concerning the persistence of Haliburton's COPD symptoms, likely swayed the jury's decision.

The case marks the last Engle trial of the year. Edward Caprio v. Philip Morris, et al. is scheduled to begin on January 19, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale.

Our weekly review comes from our unequaled gavel-to-gavel coverage of Florida's Engle progeny cases.

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Topics: Engle Progeny, Tobacco Litigation, CVN Florida, Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds, Engle Progeny Review

2014 CVN Engle Progeny Awards: The Attorney Finalists

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Dec 16, 2014 7:37:00 PM



With the award nomination period over, we highlight the 2014 attorney finalists for the CVN Engle Awards, honoring excellence in this landmark series of litigation. The winner in each category will be announced December 30.

Plaintiff's Attorneys

Willie Gary, of Gary, Williams, Parenti & Watson

  • 2014 Record: 1-?
  • 2014 Damages: $23.6 billion, with potentially more undetermined.
  • The case for Willie Gary: Even if the $23.6 billion punitive damage award in Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds is ultimately reversed, it created shockwaves as the largest punitive verdict ever handed down by an Engle progeny jury, and Gary's electric oratory no doubt played a part in that. Furthermore, the trial's compensatory verdict alone (at $16.8 million) places it among a handful of $15+ million awards this year. With Halburton v. R.J. Reynolds in progress, Gary's argument for the award is still being made. 

Allan Kaiser, of The Ferraro Law Firm

  • 2014 Record: 2-1
  • 2014 Damages: $40.5 million
  • The case for Allan Kaiser: Kaiser's two wins ($12.5 million in Cuculino v. Philip Morris and $28 million in Hubbird v. R.J. Reynolds) both yielded eight-figure awards, and his $40.5 million verdict total for the year places him in the stratosphere among those not involved in the Robinson trial.

T. Hardee Bass, of Searcy Denney

  • 2014 Record: 3-0-1
  • Damages: $26.58 million
  • The case for T. Hardee Bass: Trying four CVN Engle progeny cases between March and November alone is noteworthy enough. Going undefeated on that slate, with more than $26 million in verdicts is nothing short of outstanding.

Defense Attorneys

Harold Gordon, of Jones Day

  • 2014 Record: 2-0-1
  • The case for Harold Gordon: With three CVN Engle trials and an undefeated record, Gordon had one of the most successful years of any defense attorney in 2014. 

Frank Cruz-Alvarez, of Shook Hardy

  • 2014 Record: 1-0-1
  • The case for Frank Cruz-Alvarez: A new face in CVN Engle trial circles this year, Cruz-Alvarez had a strong 2014. Even his mistrial, in Gore v. R.J. Reynolds, came after a jury finding awarding no compensatory damages. 

Kelly Luther, of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres

  • 2014 Record: 2-0-2
  • The case for Kelly Luther: Luther carried an exemplary, undefeated record through four trips to the courtroom in 2014. Although Perrotto v. R.J. Reynolds yielded a verdict for the plaintiff, the jury apportioned no liability to Luther's client, Liggett. Meanwhile, one of Luther's mistrials, in Russo v. Philip Morris, came only because the parties were unable to seat a jury.  

Come back next week when we name the finalists for the Law Firm categories. 

CVN features unmatched Engle litigation video coverage.


Topics: Negligence, Engle Progeny, Tobacco Litigation

$26 Million Award in Florida Dismemberment Suit

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Dec 16, 2014 4:17:20 PM

In closing arguments, R. Gene Odom, representing Jerry Johnson in his suit against Daniel Drakulich, tells the jury it has nearly limitless power to compensate Johnson for the range of pain, suffering, and injuries, including the loss of his legs, caused when Drakulich struck Johnson with his car. Jurors awarded Johnson and his family $26 million.

Bradenton, FL—Jurors awarded a former sanitation worker and his family $26 million in their suit against the driver whose vehicular collision cost the worker his legs. Jerry Johnson v. Paul Drakulich. 

Jerry Johnson and his wife Sabrina sued Paul Drakulich, who  was 19 when he struck Johnson in December 20011 as Johnson waited by his disabled Waste Management truck. The collision crushed Johnson’s legs and pelvis, among other injuries. Doctors ultimately amputated Johnson’s legs, and he was hospitalized for more than five months following the accident. The jury deliberated for less than five hours before rendering its verdict, which awarded $20.6 million to Johnson, $3.4 million to Sabrina, and $1 million each to Johnson's two children. 

At trial, the defense admitted Drakulich’s fault in the incident but argued that Johnson sought an excessive amount for his future expenses and lost earnings. The case turned on Johnson's damages, with both sides presenting conflicting expert testimony concerning Johnson's future expenses. In closing arguments Tuesday, J. Emory Wood urged jurors to award the Johnsons $9.68 million, saying "It's a terrible case, but it's not a situation for punishment. It's a situation for determining a value for these losses." 

However, Johnson's attorney, R. Gene Odom, told jurors in closing arguments that the combination of Johnson's injuries was more severe, and warranted more in damages, than the sum of each indvidual injury. "The damage to his kidneys, lungs, brains, eyesight, legs, stating the obvious: it's a synergistic effect on him that has an exponential effect on him," Odom said. 

Related Information:

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Topics: Negligence, Vehicle Collision, CVN Florida, Johnson v. Drakulich et al,, CVN News

Breaking News: Perini v. MGM Settles Moments Before Trial to Open

Posted by Arlin Crisco on Dec 16, 2014 12:50:00 PM


Perini v. MGM Mirage Design Group, the suit involving nearly a half-billion dollars in claims, has settled for a currently undisclosed amount, according to multiple sources. CVN will provide more information as it becomes available. 


Las Vegas—Shortly before opening statements were to begin in Perini v. MGM Mirage Design Group, the nearly $500-million construction defect suit involving MGM’s CityCenter development project, parties settled the case according to multiple sources. The terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed, but CVN will provide more information as it becomes available.

The settlement ends years of legal wrangling between scores of parties. The lawsuit revolved around the Harmon Hotel, a 48-story, luxury tower intended to be the jewel of the $8.5 billion Las Vegas CityCenter development. Construction on the Harmon ceased in 2008, after inspectors determined the building was structurally unsound. The hotel sat empty as the rest of the CityCenter opened in 2009. The Harmon was eventually dismantled, as building contractors and property owners argued over the tower's fate and who should be held responsible. Contractor Tutor Perini Corp. and its subcontractors contended that MGM Mirage Design Group and other property owners owed them more than $492 million on the project, while the defendants claimed that Perini and its subcontractors were liable for defects that made the building uninhabitable.


Topics: Construction, CVN National, Perini Building Co. v. MGM Mirage Design Group, CVN News

Engle Progeny Review for the Week of December 8

Posted by Courtroom View Network on Dec 12, 2014 6:58:00 PM

Dorothy Wilson, the daughter of Andrew Haliburton, details her father’s history of chain smoking. Haliburton’s widow, Dorothy, is suing R.J. Reynolds, claiming that Haliburton’s nicotine addiction caused his fatal COPD.

Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds

West Palm Beach, FL—Thursday saw Dorothy Wilson, the daughter of Andrew Halburton, the deceased smoker at the heart of this suit against R.J. Reynolds, describe her father's heavy history of smoking. Wilson told jurors that her father would begin smoking soon after he awoke each morning, and she remembered that he smoked so heavily he would simetimes have more than one cigarette burning at a time. "He may start smoking one cigarette. Before he can finish it, he'd take the cigarette he had lit and light up another one," Wilson recalled. "He'd put (down) the one that lit (the second cigarette), puff off the second one... and he'd continue to smoke. Then he'd get one of the (burning) cigarettes out of the ashtray; he'd light up a third cigarette, and continue to smoke," she said. 

Andrew Haliburton, who smoked several different brands of R.J. Reynolds cigarettes over several decades, quit smoking in 1994 when he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He died four years later, at age 60. Wilson said the effects of Haliburton's death still weigh on her mother Dorothy Haliburton, Andrew's widow and the suit's plaintiff. "They'd been married for over 40 years, and there are times she calls and you can tell, she misses him. He's not there. There's no one there," Wilson said. "She loved him. He loved her. He's gone."

Wilson also described the pervasiveness of smoking and cigarettes when she was a child, including the marketing of candy cigarettes and the number of stores in her neighborhood that allowed her to purchase cigarettes for her father. However, on cross examination, she acknowledged that she never began smoking herself because she regarded it as a "bad habit" or "addiction." She also acknowledged that her father had developed a cough before she moved out of her father's house in 1982. 

A potential key to the case is whether Haliburton should reasonably have known and sought medical attention for smoking-related respiratory problems prior to prior to May 5, 1990, a bar date for Engle progeny suits.

Wilson's presence on the witness stand followed more than three days of testimony from Robert Proctor, an expert on tobacco and tobacco industry marketing. Proctor detailed what Haliburton's attorneys contend was a concerted scheme by tobacco manufacturers, including Reynolds, to conceal the dangers of cigarettes. However, Proctor acknowledged on cross examination that he had no knowledge of whether Andrew Haliburton had ever heard tobacco industry claims regarding cigarettes.

Coming next week: The defense is expected to begin its case in chief next week. 

Our weekly review comes from our unequaled gavel-to-gavel coverage of Florida's Engle progeny cases.

Not a subscriber?

Click here to learn more about our expansive tobacco litigation library.

Topics: Engle Progeny, Tobacco Litigation, CVN Florida, Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds

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