Lorillard Loses Appeal of $15-Million Court Ruling

Jury finds no errors in court trial for wrongful death

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. -- A Duval County, Fla., jury awarded Michelle Mrozek $3.9 million in compensatory damages and $11.3 million in punitive damages in her wrongful death lawsuit against Lorillard Tobacco Co. for the death of her mother, Jacqueline Swann Miller, from lung cancer.

The genesis of the litigation is a 1994 class-action lawsuit against various cigarette manufacturers, including Lorillard, and tobacco industry organizations seeking damages for smoking-related illnesses and deaths. Mrozek's lawsuit is one of thousands filed after the Florida Supreme Court, in Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., upheld the class-action jury verdict on common issues relating to the defendants' conduct but decertified the class for liability and damages purposes, allowing class plaintiffs to sue individually.

Lorillard appealed Mrozek's judgment, arguing that the trial court erred by:

  1. Granting her partial summary judgment on the issue of whether she is an Engle class plaintiff.
  2. Instructing the jury on concurrent causes.
  3. Admitting purported hearsay evidence showing Miller's state of mind and attitude about smoking decades before her death.
  4. Admitting evidence of general misconduct by Lorillard not specifically directed to Miller.
  5. Permitting Mrozek to rely on factual findings from the Engle class action that the Florida Supreme Court deemed to have effect in subsequent individual suits for liability and damages.

The jury, however, found no error by the trial court and affirmed the ruling on all issues.