Jacksonville, Florida – Jurors awarded over $11 million this week to the children of a Florida woman who died from lung cancer after years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by the nation’s two largest tobacco companies. The case, known as Ferraiuolo v. Philip Morris, et al., involved a verdict that held Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds responsible for the woman’s death. The verdict included $1.05 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. However, the jury attributed only 17% of the liability to Reynolds, 28% to Philip Morris, and the rest to the deceased woman, Olga Ferraiuolo herself. The jury also rejected the punitive claim against Reynolds, leaving Philip Morris to shoulder the majority of the total award.
Ferraiuolo had been a smoker for more than four decades before succumbing to lung cancer. Her children argued that the two tobacco companies were responsible for producing dangerous and addictive cigarettes that ultimately led to their mother’s nicotine addiction and illness.
This lawsuit is one of numerous “Engle-progeny” cases, which emerged from a class action lawsuit by Florida smokers in the 1990s against tobacco companies. After a trial court ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, the Florida Supreme Court decertified the class, stating that individual “Engle progeny” plaintiffs could only seek compensation if they could prove that the smoker at the center of each case was addicted to the cigarettes that caused their smoking-related illness.
During the trial, the focus was on Ferraiuolo’s smoking history and what drove her to continue smoking throughout most of her life. Attorneys representing Philip Morris and Reynolds argued that Ferraiuolo was aware of the dangers of smoking but chose not to quit in time to prevent her cancer. They presented evidence that family members and others had warned her about the hazards of smoking and had urged her to quit, suggesting that she lacked the motivation to do so.
However, the attorney representing Ferraiuolo’s family countered with testimony indicating that she may have smoked two packs of Reynolds cigarettes a day for 10 years, resulting in a significant smoking history. This, in their opinion, was enough to cause her cancer and demonstrated her overall addiction to cigarettes. They argued that her resistance to quitting was actually indicative of her dependence on nicotine.
In conclusion, a Florida jury awarded over $11 million to the children of a woman who died from lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes made by Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds. The verdict assigned a majority of the liability to Philip Morris and included $10 million in punitive damages. The case is part of a series of “Engle-progeny” lawsuits, stemming from a class action lawsuit in the 1990s.