Philip Morris Bears the Brunt of $4.5M Award in Tullo

Posted by msch on Apr 14, 2011 8:06:00 PM

Judge Meenu SasserTullo v. R.J. Reynolds (West Palm Beach, Florida).

A Palm Beach jury awarded $4.5M in damages to the wife of a smoker who died of lung cancer.

In his closing argument, plaintiff attorney Steven Hammer of the Schlesinger Law Offices reminded the jury "The word 'responsibility' has been talked about a lot in this case...You've heard the defendants, through their people, through their corporate executives, their CEOs, their Presidents, say that 'We take on responsibility for the health of the American public.' You heard they said that back in 1954. And they repeated that constantly through the years...We're asking hold [the four Tobacco defendants Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, and Liggett] to that responsibility that they said that they would undertake back in 1954 in the Frank Statement, and all those years thereafter."

In his closing argument on behalf of R.J. Reynolds, Jones Day's Steven Geise told the jury that there was not enough evidence to justify a conclusion that Mr. Tullo had smoked RJR's brands -- Lucky Strike, Camel, and Pall Mall -- for any significant period of time.

The jury found that addiction to cigarettes was the legal cause of Mr. Tullo's death, but only as to Philip Morris, Lorillard, and Liggett, not R.J. Reynolds. The jury assigned fault as follows: 45% to Mr. Tullo, 45% to Philip Morris, 5% to Lorillard, and 5% to Liggett. The jury awarded $3M for past damages, and $1.5M for future damages. The jury did not find the requisite liability to support a punitive damages award.

CVN webcast the Tullo tobacco trial live.

Topics: Toxic Torts, Products Liability, Engle Progeny, Tullo v. RJR, Tobacco Litigation