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$6.4 Million Verdict Against Tobacco Company

Keith Mitnik, senior trial counsel at Morgan & Morgan and author of Don’t Eat the Bruises, recently obtained a $6.4 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds on behalf of the family of a Florida man who died in 2010 from emphysema. Mitnik argued that Reynolds had profited from his deceased client’s addiction and was at fault for the nicotine dependency that led to his client’s untimely death.

“Nothing that happened from this time period we’re talking about, and happened to [my client], happened by accident,” Mitnik asserted in court. “It was engineered for at the highest level. It was studied at the highest level. It was marketed at extraordinary dollars and design. The deceit, web of deceit, was massive and well-funded and extraordinarily planned and brilliantly, according to them, executed. [My client] was not some rogue smoker. He is precisely what it’s always about for them—someone who would smoke. All. Day. Long. Because that’s where the money comes from.”

After the trial, Mitnik shared his thoughts with us regarding the case, and what he felt helped him find justice for his clients:

“Tobacco trials are the ultimate testing ground for the strategies in my book. Picking a jury in one of those cases feels like facing an angry mob with pitchforks and torches. We ran through 200 jurors to seat six, plus alternates. Then, we faced the slew of bruises this massive litigation defense machine created—trying to make it all about our client’s choices. We were able to cut them out in one fell swoop during opening.

“In spite of all the industry’s might, we were winning at the beginning. The damage models worked to the tune of $6.4 million for pure noneconomic damages where the spouse died six years earlier and the surviving wife could not testify due to Alzheimer’s. These systems simply work.”

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