A jury awarded $7.5 million, including $2.5 million in punitive damages, to a woman who claimed she developed chronic obstructive pulmonary respiratory disease from smoking cigarettes.
Pauline Burkhart began smoking cigarettes at 18 and was diagnosed with COPD 34 years later. She claimed she was addicted to nicotine in R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and Lorillard cigarettes, and nicotine caused her lung disease. Burkhart also claimed the defendants concealed the health effects of cigarettes and their addictive nature.
Three other defendants—Liggett, Dorsal and Vector—were dismissed before trial. Defense counsel claimed Burkhart was not addicted to smoking and her disease was not caused by smoking.
Case: Burkhart v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Case no.: 3:09-cv-10727
Plaintiffs attorneys: Elizabeth J. Cabrasser, Richard M. Heimann and Sarah R. London, Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, San Francisco
Defense attorneys: Marc A. Belasic, Jones Day, Cleveland; Kathleen A. Gallagher, Beck Redden, Houston; Jose A. Isai II, Jones Day, Chicago; Giselle Gonzalez Manseur, Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, Miami; Robb W. Patryk, Hughes, Hubbard & Reed, New York; and Carl L. Rowley, Thompson Coburn, St. Louis