Avera & Smith Secures $34 Million Judgment Against R.J. Reynolds
September 14, 2015 – Gainesville and Pensacola, FL; A Pensacola Circuit Court jury has returned a $34 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds tobacco company on behalf of the family of Garry O’Hara, a man who passed away from lung cancer at age 50 subsequent to quitting smoking at age 35.
“This is an important judgement on behalf of Garry’s family,” said Mark Avera, Partner, Gainesville-based Avera & Smith law firm. “If Americans only knew what these companies concealed from us about what they knew about smoking and lung cancer and nicotine addiction. They were decades ahead of everyone else on smoking and health. That was all they did, study cigarettes and research how to addict more young teens.”
The legal claim was made by Mr. O’Hara’s widow and two of his three children as an Engle Progeny class action case, in which nicotine-addicted Florida residents or their families are eligible to sue tobacco companies for cases diagnosed between 1990 and 1996. He started smoking in the late 1950s at age 14 and was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 49.
“It’s gratifying to secure justice for Garry’s widow and children, and to hold R.J. Reynolds accountable in this case,” said Rod Smith, Partner at Avera & Smith. “The tobacco industry has killed 20 million Americans and Garry O’Hara was one of them.”
The case was tried by Avera & Smith with support from Tampa-based law firm Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, which retained Avera & Smith based on the firm’s experience with tobacco cases and successful outcomes in a wide range of other plaintiffs’ cases. Dawn Vallejos-Nichols, Senior Associate at Avera & Smith, was instrumental in the positive outcome of this case for the O’Hara family.
Mr. O’Hara was a 30 year Air Force veteran who attained the rank of Chief Master Sargent. He began smoking as a young teen during the cigarette culture of the 1950s and 1960s when smoking was considered normal and there was no appreciation for the connection between smoking cigarettes and the increasing prevalence of lung cancer.
Avera & Smith has represented Floridians for more than 60 years with a legacy of personal service and genuine care for clients and the local community.