In a recent $17 million verdict against Lorillard Tobacco Company, Terrell • Hogan attorneys obtained a verdict for $6 million in compensatory damages for the death of Jacqueline Miller who began smoking Old Gold unfiltered cigarettes in 1946 as a teenager and died of lung cancer 48 years later.
The three-week Jacksonville trial was a result of legal action spanning several years, pursued by Ms. Miller’s personal representative, daughter Michelle Mrozek. The case centered on evidence that Lorillard clouded the truth about cigarettes and marketed its cigarettes as attractive and sophisticated, even after the surgeon general issued warnings about the potential health risks of smoking.
The month-long trial was the first post-Engle case tried against tobacco manufacturer Lorillard in Florida and the first win by a tobacco claimant in Duval County after four previous victories by the tobacco industry. While it was acknowledged that Miller bore some responsibility “for smoking the cigarettes that caused her to suffer lung cancer,” but “Lorillard Tobacco Company also made choices. They made intentional choices … that were influenced by money.”
During the closing argument, the jury was informed that “It is so important to take [the jury] back to that time,” and explain that although Miller continued to smoke, she switched to a filtered cigarette and later to a longer cigarette, both marketed by the tobacco industry as being safer and better for smokers.|
In closing rebuttal, it was explained to the jury, “I would submit to you that you have no evidence to suggest — other than being regulated and told what to do — there have been no changes in the mentality and the intent of the company. The only difference is now they want to be applauded because they follow the law.” Following two days of deliberation, the jury found that Miller was partially accountable for her own death, but allocated 65 percent of the blame against the cigarette company. Ultimately, the jury assigned $11.3 million in punitive damages against Lorillard and awarded $6 million in compensatory damages.
Terrell • Hogan attorneys are no strangers to litigation against the cigarette industry. In 1997, attorney Wayne Hogan was part of the legal team that successfully represented the State of Florida resulting in a $17 billion settlement that also forced the cigarette industry to remove all billboard advertising and retire “Joe Camel” and the “Marlboro Man” in the state.