Stuart, Florida (February 9, 2015) – Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry D. Terrell recently denied RJ Reynolds’ request for a new trial after Reynolds was hit with a landmark $23.6 billion verdict on behalf of the widow of a man who died as a result of a smoking-related illness.
Trial attorney Willie Gary, along with his law partner Donald Watson, of the Florida-based law firm of Gary, Williams, Parenti, & Watson, and Gary P.L.L.C., and Chris Chestnut of the Chestnut Firm in Atlanta, Georgia were awarded nearly $17 million in compensatory damages and over $23 billion in punitive damages on behalf of their client Cynthia Robinson. Throughout the course of a four-week trial, Gary and team proved that RJ Reynolds was negligent in informing consumers of the dangers of tobacco and therefore, caused the unnecessary and untimely demise of Michael Johnson, Sr. The trial team also proved that RJ Reynolds conspired with other tobacco companies to withhold critical information from the public. Johnson contracted lung cancer as a direct and proximate result of smoking cigarettes. Johnson, furthermore, became addicted to cigarettes and was unable to quit smoking despite numerous attempts.
After roughly 15 hours of deliberations, the Jury returned a verdict in favor of Gary’s client for nearly $17 million dollars in compensatory damages, and a landmark $23.6 billion in punitive damages. The Jury determined that RJ Reynolds was negligent and should have done a better job at informing consumers about the dangers of smoking and the physical dependency caused by nicotine. Judge Terrell recently reduced the punitive damages from $23 billion to $16 million, despite the Defendant’s request that the verdict be reduced to $2 million.
“It is our sincere hope to be able to resolve this matter as amicably and expeditiously as possible,” commented Chris Chestnut. “While we recognize that there is no amount of money that will ever be able to replace her husband, our client has suffered enough and we want her to be able to move forward with her life,” stated Willie Gary. “While we certainly respect the Judge’s decision, we thank God that we live in a country that allows us to fight for what we believe is right. We will continue the fight against Big Tobacco in an effort to eradicate unnecessary and untimely smoking related deaths,” continued Gary.
Attorney Willie E. Gary is no stranger to seeking justice. Mr. Gary and his legal team are known for taking on some of the nation’s most powerful corporate giants. In 2014, a jury awarded Gary and his legal team an unprecedented $23.6 billion verdict against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1995, a jury awarded Gary and his legal team a record-breaking, half-billion dollars against one of the world’s largest funeral chains, The Loewen Group. In addition, Gary is noted for winning a $240 million jury verdict in Orange County against the Walt Disney Corporation for his clients who alleged that Disney stole their idea for a sports theme park. In 2001, a jury awarded Gary a $139.6 million verdict for the Maris Distributing Company against Anheuser Busch.