New York, Jan. 1 (Reuters): A federal judge in California entered a directed verdict yesterday in favour of the top two US cigarette makers in a suit brought by the family of a deceased smoker, saying the plaintiffs did not bring enough evidence to back their claims that Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds were responsible for the smoker’s death.
The verdict in favour of the defendants comes after tobacco industry losses in some high-profile cases on the West Coast, including a California jury’s recent $28 billion punitive damage award against Philip Morris Cos. Inc. , which was later cut to $28 million by a judge. Philip Morris is appealing that case, known as Bullock.
“It’s definitely encouraging,” Morgan Stanley analyst David Adelman said of yesterday’s verdict.
He said it marked the first time the industry has prevailed in any smoking and health lawsuit that has proceeded to trial on the West coast.
In the trial, plaintiffs Elaine Conley, Weldon White and Dorothy White sought damages for the death of their father and husband, Frank Robert White, who died in 1999 at the age of 81, according to Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.