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Brannock Humphries & Berman Helps Secure Ten-Million-Dollar Tobacco Verdict

Providing legal support at trial, Brannock Humphries & Berman assisted the team from Gordon & Partners and Searcy Denney in winning a significant verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for the role the company’s negligence, fraud, concealment, and conspiracy played in causing a Florida man’s bladder cancer.

The case is one of many so-called “Engle-progeny” personal-injury cases, the name given to lawsuits that derive from the Florida Supreme Court’s 2006 decision decertifying a landmark class-action lawsuit against the major tobacco manufacturers. Although the Supreme Court disbanded the class, it nonetheless permitted individual class plaintiffs to bring their claims with the benefit of certain common jury findings made in the class case. Here, the plaintiff, a living smoker in his eighties, claimed that he was entitled to the benefit of those findings and that his decades-long addiction to R.J. Reynolds’ cigarettes led to his cancer, requiring many surgeries and creating other deleterious health effects.

Brannock Humphries & Berman provided trial support to the plaintiff, arguing important motions and taking the lead on the jury instructions. At the end of trial, the Hillsborough County jury agreed to hold R.J. Reynolds liable, awarding the plaintiff $5 million for pain and suffering and another $5 million in punitive damages based on the company’s misconduct.