(© 2005 by Tomasz Sienicki via Wikimeida Commons)
The Third District Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld a $10 million jury award to a man who started smoking when he was 7.
The defendant in the products liability case is R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
The appeals court issued a brief opinion that doesn’t explain its reasoning.
William Crawford, 79, of Stuart has no voice box and breathes through a tube. The defense claimed his laryngeal cancer could have been caused by gastric reflux or social drinking.
In September 2013, a Miami-Dade Circuit Court jury found nicotine addiction and smoking caused the cancer. It also found Crawford relied on Reynolds’ misrepresentations about the effects of smoking and the company agreed with other cigarette makers to conceal damning information about smoking.
Reynolds’ options to avoid or forestall paying the $10 million are limited, according to Crawford’s lead trial lawyer Alex Alvarez. The company could seek a rarely granted rehearing.
Reynolds also could try appealing, but “it’s highly, highly, highly unlikely that they’ll take this case with no opinion attached to it,” Alvarez said.
The lead appellate attorney for Crawford was Celene Humphries of Brannock & Humphries in Tampa.
Reynolds was represented by lawyers from Carlton Fields Jorden Burt in Florida and Jones Day in Washington.