Huish v. R.J. Reynolds (Gainesville, Florida).
“There is only one side to this story,” Searcy Denney’s James Gustafson told the jury in closing the punitive damages phase of the trial. “We proved this case with their own documents. We proved this case with the things they wrote at the times they did them.
“We brought you two of the foremost experts on smoking and health — Dr. Michael Cummings, Dr. David Burns. You heard Dr. David Burns quoted, his research quoted in the 2010 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, yesterday during cross-examination. Dr. Burns, who came here and testified to you about the things they did, and why the did them. And the consequences and effect that it had on millions of people. And that 400,000+ number, the number of people who die in this country every year? That’s just the United States. But Philip Morris’s lawyer got up here in closing argument — he called Dr. Cummings ‘dangerous.’ Folks, nothing about them has changed. Nothing about them has changed.”
The plaintiffs requested a punitive damage award that was a single-digit multiplier of the $750K compensatory damages award — up to $6.75M — for each of the two tobacco defendants, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris.
The jury returned a punitive damages verdict of $1.5M against R.J. Reynolds and $1.5M against Philip Morris, for a total damages award of $3.75M.
This is Tobacco’s fourth consecutive loss: Webb, Kirkland, Hatziyannakis, and Huish. Searcy Denney’s David Sales and James Gustafson teamed up to win both Webb and Huish, which were the largest verdicts of the four most recent trials.