A Florida state court jury has awarded $35 million to a 61-year-old smoker who underwent two lung transplants as a result of smoking Marlboro brand cigarettes since age 12 in a suit against Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group.
The Polk County jury on Wednesday returned two verdicts: one for compensation and one for punishment. Richard Boatright was awarded $15 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages two days later, after it was argued that he was the victim of marketing and advertising campaigns featuring the world famous Marlboro man, encouraging him to continue smoking, after starting at the age of 12. The Philip Morris tobacco company was accused of engineering the Marlboro cigarette to be more powerfully addictive by adding ammonia compounds. They claimed that these chemical additives freebase the nicotine molecule and increase the speed directly to the brain, enhancing its addictive properties.
After smoking cigarettes for decades, Boatright developed emphysema and underwent two lung transplants.
It was alleged that the tobacco companies knew cigarettes would harm users and fraudulently concealed or omitted information regarding the defects, acting in a reckless manner with little regard for life.
During the four-week trial, jurors were told that in his early years, Boatright depicted smoking as attractive and glamorous through the use of marketing and advertisements. This, they contend, led to an addiction he fought for many years. But by the time Boatright quit smoking, his extensive health problems had already taken a toll and done so much damage that both lungs needed to be replaced.
This case is one of thousands filed in Florida after the Florida Supreme Court tossed out a $145 billion class action verdict in 2006. That court said smokers and/or their families needed to prove personal harm such as illness or death.
If you or a loved one suffered permanent injuries as a result of cigarette smoking, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) to discuss your case.