Lucille Soffner vs R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company – Wrongful Death – Mark Avera, Rod Smith and Dawn Vallejos-Nichols

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Avera & Smith client Lucille Soffer in a case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company that will have significant implications for other Engle progeny tobacco-related cases statewide. As a result, Avera & Smith will litigate the matter of punitive damages in the case before the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, perhaps later this year. The Supreme Court ruling reversed a First District Court of Appeal decision in 2012 that affirmed the compensatory damages verdict in the case, but found that the plaintiff was not entitled to seek punitive damages on the unintentional tort claims for negligence and strict liability.

Hall Estate v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. – Wrongful Death – Rod Smith, Mark Avera, Dawn Vallejos-Nichols

Trial verdict in the amount of $17.5M to the estate of Lamar Hall, who died in 1995 of lung cancer related to nicotine addiction. This case was the first to be heard in North Central Florida after a landmark ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006, in which the high court upheld a jury verdict finding tobacco companies liable for smoking-related injuries and deaths, but said that smokers and their families must bring individual suits to prove that smoking harmed them. In this case, and others following, attorneys challenge whether or not the tobacco company concealed or omitted information for decades regarding the dangerous health effects caused by cigarette smoking.