A Broward Circuit jury has awarded $40.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a smoker’s negligence case against the cigarette maker.
The jury award was to Joan Schoeff, widow of the late smoker James Edward Schoeff, who died of lung cancer in 1995 at age 63. His 80-year-old widow lives in Davie.
"The jury found R.J. Reynolds responsible on all counts, including fraud and conspiracy, and based on how we pled and tried the lawsuit there will be no reducing for any comparative fault," said Alex Alvarez of the Alvarez Law Firm in Coral Gables.
The jury assigned 75 percent of fault to the tobacco company and 25 percent to Schoeff.
On Wednesday, the jury set compensatory damages of $10.5 million. It also found punitive damages were warranted and on a separate Valentine’s Day verdict added $30 million in punitive damages to end the trial before Circuit Judge Jack Tuter.
Alvarez tried the case with Gary Paige of Gordon & Doner in Pembroke Pines.
"Schoeff was an executive for Keller Industries in Miami and retired in the 1980s immediately after a buyout," Alvarez said.
The case is one of thousands filed by sick smokers after the Florida Supreme Court disbanded a statewide class action.
R.J. Reynolds was represented by Gordon James III of Sedgwick in Fort Lauderdale.