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Florida Appeal Court Denies Lorillard Tobacco's Motion for Rehearing, Upholds $33M Judgment Against It

Nov 4, 2013

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has denied Lorillard Tobacco Co.’s motion for a rehearing over a $33 million judgment against the company. The court previously upheld the verdict on Sept. 4, 2013, according to court documents. This latest rebuff was filed on Oct. 29, 2013.

In September, the appeal court rebuffed Lorillard’s request for a new trial, writing in its motion: “[The court finds] Lorillard’s multiple arguments on appeal without merit,” and reaffirming that “the remitted compensatory damages award in the amount of $10 million and the punitive damages award in the amount of $25 million are neither excessive nor unconstitutional; and the compensatory and punitive damages awards are supported by the manifest weight of the evidence...” The case is titled Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Dorothy Alexander, Case No.: 3D12-1593.

Alexander was represented during the appeal by Jordan Chaikin of Parker Waichman LLP, Alex Alvarez of the Alvarez Law Firm, Gary Paige of Gordon & Doner PA, John Mills of The Mills Firm PA and Robert S. Glazier.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of Dorothy Alexander’s late husband, Coleman Alexander, who died in 1995 from lung cancer after 40 years of smoking cigarettes, including Lorillard's Kent brand, said the court documents. The suit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Florida, General Jurisdiction Division. According to court documents, a jury found in February 2012 that Lorillard’s negligence had played a contributing role in Coleman Alexander's death, noting that the company’s cigarettes were defective and dangerous but also that Lorillard had not included health information on its cigarette packaging.

Lorillard was held 80 percent responsible for Alexander's death, the jury said.

The Alexander lawsuit was one of thousands of Florida tobacco claims to arise from the Engle case, a large class action lawsuit filed on behalf of Florida citizens who had suffered from smoking-related illnesses in 1994. In 2000, a jury returned a verdict for the Engle plaintiffs, including $145 billion in punitive damages. But in 2004, an appellate court overturned the jury’s decision and reversed the award. In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the appellate court decision and de-certified the class. However, the Supreme Court ruled that members of the original suit would be allowed to file individual lawsuits against tobacco companies.

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