$34.7 Million Verdict Against Tobacco Company for Veteran’s Death

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December 7, 2015

Helen Jones
Executive Vice President 

On September 11, 2015, a Florida jury delivered a $34.7 million verdict against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for the role the company played in the death of retired Air Force sergeant Garry O’Hara who died of lung cancer in 1996. O’Hara began smoking as a teenager and smoked up to three packs a day for 22 years.

O’Hara’s widow, Collette, filed suit against R.J. Reynolds claiming that her husband’s addiction to the company’s cigarettes was the cause of his cancer and that the company actively concealed the dangers of smoking. R.J. Reynolds countered that it was O’Hara’s choice to smoke and that consumers were aware of the risks smoking posed to their health.

After deliberation, the jury found R.J. Reynolds 85% liable for the death of O’Hara and awarded $14.7 million in compensatory damages and $20 million in punitive damages.

The case is: Colette S. O’Hara, personal representative of the Estate of Garry O’Hara v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al.

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