Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog

Jury Holds RJ Reynolds Accountable to Florida Widow

San Francisco — Attorney Sarah London of the San Francisco office of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that a jury in federal court in Florida last week returned a verdict of $6 million against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (“RJR”) for Ellen Gray, the wife of Henry Gray, who died at the age of 63 from lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

“We are proud to have brought Ellen Gray’s case to trial and grateful to the Court and jury for their hard work and deliberations in administering justice,” stated London, lead trial counsel. “The evidence showed that RJR violated one of the most basic obligations we expect from all manufacturers: to tell the public the truth about the dangers in your products, when you know about them. Not only did RJR break this rule, but the company conspired for decades with other tobacco companies to conceal and deny the hazards of smoking and the addictive nature of cigarettes, and secretly engineered the cigarettes Mr. Gray smoked to be as addictive as possible.”

The jury found that Mr. Gray was addicted to cigarettes containing nicotine, and smoking cigarettes caused his death. Based on the evidence, the jury found that Ellen Gray’s loss of her husband’s companionship and support as well as her pain and suffering as a result of her husband’s prolonged illnesses and death due to smoking entitled her to $6 million in damages. The amount of the award may be reduced to $3 million based on the jury’s finding that RJR was 50% responsible for Mr. Gray’s smoking-related injuries.

Lieff Cabraser represents Florida smokers and the spouses and families of loved ones who died. To date, juries have returned verdicts totaling nearly $93 million for our clients.

At the recent trial, Ms. London was joined by John Spragens of Lieff Cabraser’s Nashville office. The case is entitled Ellen Gray, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Henry Gray, v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Case No. 3:09-cv-13603. Ms. London is licensed to practice law in California. Mr. Spragens is licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

This press release may be considered advertising in certain jurisdictions. Any testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every legal matter is different. The outcome of your claim or case depends upon many factors, including the specific facts of your claim or case. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. The jury verdict stated above is not the net amount of the recovery for the plaintiff as a judgment has not been entered and the amount is before attorneys fees and costs, and any third party fees and costs, are deducted.


Sarah London
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP