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Florida Woman Awarded $20 Million For Husband’s Cigarette Death

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A Florida woman was just awarded $20 million for her husband’s cigarette death. Dorothy Alexander’s award was against Lorillard Tobacco for the wrongful death of Coleman Alexander.

According to a statement issued by one of her attorneys, Mr. Alexander died in1995, the result of small cell lung cancer and due to his 40-year cigarette addiction, including to Kent brand cigarettes, which are made by Lorillard. The lawsuit was heard in the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Florida, General Jurisdiction Division (Case No. 07-46830-CA01).

The Alexander lawsuit is one of thousands of Florida claims against tobacco companies that arose out of another case, the so-called Engle case, in which a large class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Florida citizens in 1994 who suffered from illnesses related to smoking. In 2000, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs in the Engle case, which included a $145 billion punitive damages award.

The Florida Supreme Court upheld an appellate court decision in which the class was decertified in 2006; however, the Court ruled that the original members of the lawsuit would be permitted to file individual actions against tobacco companies. Under the standard mandated by the Supreme Court’s Engle decision, the plaintiff was required to prove that Mr. Alexander was addicted to cigarettes that contained nicotine, which was his legal cause of death.

The jury agreed that Mr. Alexander was addicted to nicotine and that his cause of death was the result of that addiction. The jury also agreed that it was the defendant’s negligence, the defective and unreasonably dangerous cigarettes it marketed, and Mr. Alexander’s reasonable reliance on Lorillard’s statements that did not include critical information about health and safety issues for the cigarettes Mr. Alexander smoked, that were his legal cause of death.

Lorillard was found responsible for 80% of Mr. Alexander’s death from small cell lung cancer and the jurors found that Mrs. Alexander was entitled to punitive damages; that stage of the trial is scheduled for next week, said her attorneys.

Mrs. Alexander is represented by Jordan Chaikin, a partner with the national law firm, Parker Waichman LLP; the Alvarez Law Firm; and the Paige Law Firm.

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