Credit: Mesk Photography/Shutterstock.com

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

LEE CIRCUIT COURT

A jury awarded $225,000 to a longtime cigarette smoker who was diagnosed with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 57.

Cynthia Boulter quit smoking in 2005 after complaining of breathing problems since the early 1990s, which qualified her as member of Florida’s Engle class. She argued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. knew they were selling an addictive drug, they engaged in fraudulent concealment, and they used propaganda to convince people that there was no proof cigarette smoking caused illness.

Defense counsel claimed Boulter was not addicted to cigarettes and did not rely on tobacco company ads when she started and continued smoking. Boutler was found 70 percent liable, reducing her award to $225,000.

Case: Boulter v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco

Case No.: 08-CA-000627

Plaintiffs attorneys: Philip M. Gerson, Gerson & Schwartz, Miami, and Dennis Lopez, Dennis A. Lopez P.A., Tampa

Defense attorneys: Bradley W. Harrison, Jones Day, Cleveland, and Deborah D. Kuchler, Kuchler Polk Weiner, New Orleans