Brown v. Phillip Morris, et al., 15-002451-Cl.

A Pinellas County jury has awarded $5.4 million in compensatory damages and $400,000 in punitive damages to the family of a woman who passed away nearly 22 years ago, after years of nicotine addiction ultimately took her life.

The Ruth Law Team’s Eric Roslansky and Brent Bigger of Paul Knopf Bigger represented the Brown family, who lost their dedicated wife and mother of two children, Maria (Joyce) Brown. Ms. Brown began smoking at just 16 years old and passed away in 1995 at the age of 47.

On Wednesday, February 15, the Pinellas County jury deliberated for about five hours before awarding the plaintiff $5.4 million in compensatory damages, which is intended to compensate our client for his tremendous loss and suffering. The jury also determined punitive damages were warranted against Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The next day, the trial jury determined the two tobacco giants should pay out $400,000 due in part to their hiding critical evidence indicating tobacco is addictive and detrimental to smokers’ health. Punitive damages are intended not to further compensate the plaintiff but to punish the defendant for its wrongful conduct and to deter similar misconduct in the future.

In this case, evidence showed Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds enticed young teens and adults to begin smoking at a young age, explicitly hiding evidence showing the detrimental effects to their health. The tobacco companies denied its knowledge of their products being addictive and causing lung cancer.

Unfortunately no amount of money will bring back Ms. Brown and the many others who have passed away due to smoking-related illnesses and addiction. We are very proud to stand up to big tobacco companies like Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds.

It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to get to represent the Brown family in this case. This case was all about the conscious decisions of these cigarette companies and their efforts to addict children and teenagers to a lifetime of smoking. Joyce Brown was a beautiful woman – inside and out – who died far too young leaving behind a wonderful family. – Attorney Eric Roslansky