Six of the nation’s largest verdicts last year came from Florida juries to smokers and their families in cases against Big Tobacco. But one topped them all: On July 17, an Escambia County jury awarded nearly $17 million to the widow and son of a man who had died from lung cancer at 36 years old, and the next day added $23.6 billion in punitive damages.
Tobacco Verdicts Dominated 2014
“We masterminded a case that we knew was giong to get their attention,” attorney Willie Gary of Gary, Williams, Parenti & Watson said of defendant R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. “Paying $10 million, $15 million was like a slap on the wrist. If you don’t stop killing people, this jury will send a message to you.”
Was 2014 The Twilight of the Patent Trolls?
Intellectual property verdicts more than doubled last year compared with 2013 thanks to several nine-figure verdicts, but none crossed the billion-dollar threshold last reached in 2012.
Chart: The Top 100 Verdicts of 2014
In all, products liability cases generated $33.3 billion in verdicts, the highest total awards in dollar value for 2014—although much of that came from two cases.