Miami, FL—After slightly more than a day of deliberations, a jury awarded $7 million in compensatory damages and found R.J. Reynolds liable for punitives in an Engle progeny wrongful death suit.
Robert Wilcox, the son of deceased smoker Cleston Wilcox, sued R.J. Reynolds on behalf of his mother Lorraine Wilcox, and claimed the tobacco manufacturer furthered his father’s addiction to cigarettes, which led to the lung cancer that killed him. Wilcox had sought a $10 million compensatory award.
In its verdict, the jury, which received the case yesterday afternoon, apportioned 30% of liability to Cleston Wilcox and 70% to R.J. Reynolds.
Cleston Wilcox, a pack-a-day smoker for 60 years, quit smoking two years before he died of lung cancer in 1994. Plaintiff’s case included physicians' testimony that Cleston's cancer was caused by his addiction to smoking and originated in his lungs rather than metastasizing from elsewhere in his body.
The jury will hear evidence on punitive damages tomorrow morning. Judge Norma Lindsey told jurors she expects they will begin deliberations sometime tomorrow afternoon.