Kasowitz Successfully Defends Cigarette Manufacturer Liggett in a Mass Tort, Products Liability Jury Trial in Pensacola, Florida
In January 2012, Kasowitz successfully defended cigarette manufacturer Liggett in a three-week jury trial in Pensacola, Florida. The case, Ward v. R.J. Reynolds et al., was an individual wrongful death, products liability lawsuit brought on behalf of a lifelong smoker who died from complications related to COPD and emphysema. The action is one of a series of thousands of products liability lawsuits brought against cigarette manufacturers in Florida that arise from a decertified smoker class action known as Engle v. Liggett et al. These cases, which are known as “Engle progeny,” permit former class members to rely on findings regarding tobacco company conduct from the original Engle class action trial and use them in their individual personal injury trials against the defendant tobacco companies. While the jury found Liggett’s co-defendant, R.J. Reynolds, liable for $2,000,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, the jury found Liggett only .1% at fault -- which translated to a $1,000 nominal verdict against Liggett. The verdict with respect to Liggett reflects the lowest allocation of fault attributed to any cigarette manufacturer defendant in an Engle progeny lawsuit. The firm is representing Liggett with respect to all of its Engle progeny trials and appeals. Kasowitz partner Leonard A. Feiwus represented Liggett at trial.