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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Big Tobacco Hit With $ 152 Million Verdict – Trial Available on TV – Should this Be Deem

The tobacco wars have moved another couple of steps. A new AmLaw article by Susan Beck covers 1) a Florida appellate court affirming a $ 28 million plaintiff’s verdict, and 2) a $ 152 million verdict in Massachusetts in a lung cancer death case pushed by the Tobacco Litigation Project at Northeastern Law School. The AmLaw article includes various helpful links, including a link to a sister publication which televised the trial.

One wonders about future spinoff products from a televised trial. Perhaps YouTube segments will follow ?

One other thought to consider. Should the Tobacco Litigation Project be considered a positive example of "litigation funding" ?

As to the new verdict, here are key excerpts from Ms. Beck’s article:

The Evans verdict appears to be largest compensatory verdict ever in a individual smoking case. It’s also notable because it occurred in Massachusetts, which, in contrast to Florida, is not exactly a hotbed of smoking litigation. In fact, according to plaintiffs lawyer Frisardi, this is the first tobacco plaintiffs verdict in Massachusetts and just the second smokers case to go to trial in the state. Frisardi stressed that this jury found that cigarettes were unreasonably defective. "That’s an important milestone," he said.

Marie Evans, who died at age 54, claimed she was lured into a smoking habit when she was 13, after accepting free cigarettes handed out in the largely African American community of Roxbury. Under Massachusetts law, the plaintiffs were not allowed to ask for a specific amount of damages. The $71 compensatory award consists of $21 million for her son for the loss of companionship of his mother, and $50 million to Ms. Evans’s estate for her pain and suffering.

Professor Philip Howard of Northeastern University School of Law, who worked on the plaintiffs legal team, told the Litigation Daily that this verdict is strategically important in the fight against the tobacco industry. "We brought this case in Massachusetts to establish additional fronts for tobacco to defend on," Howard told us. "This is an effort to light a fire in another region of the country." (Northeastern Law School is the home of the Tobacco Products Liability Project, which assists tobacco litigation around the country.)

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