Court: Husband not at fault in wife’s smoking death
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
An appeals court Wednesday ordered a new trial in a lawsuit against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., after finding that a judge improperly allowed a jury to consider whether a husband failed to prevent his wife from smoking.
The 4th District Court of Appeal sided with Jan Grossman, who sued R.J. Reynolds in the 1995 lung-cancer death of his wife, Laura. The jury verdict totaled $1,934,727, but R.J. Reynolds was determined to be only 25 percent at fault and required to pay $483,681.
Laura Grossman was found to be 70 percent liable for her injuries, while her husband was found to be 5 percent at fault. The appeals court said R.J. Reynolds accused Jan Grossman of supplying his wife with cigarettes, smoking in front of her as she tried to quit and never encouraging her to quit.
But the court said a Broward County circuit judge improperly included Jan Grossman on a verdict form that went to the jury. It said people do not have a legal responsibility to prevent their spouses from smoking.
“At trial, Jan acknowledged his lack of judgment and ‘fault’ in buying cigarettes for Laura,’’ a three-judge panel ruled. “However, his testimony was an admission of moral responsibility, not legal liability.”
The Grossman lawsuit is one of thousands filed statewide against tobacco companies in what are known as “Engle progeny” cases.
State to receive $57 million in Glaxo settlement
Florida will cash in on a record $3 billion national settlement with drug maker GlaxoSmithKline over charges the company unlawfully marketed and misrepresented some of its products.
Florida was among a group of states that joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and went after the company in what is the largest such settlement on record.
Specifically, the company allegedly misrepresented the efficacy of a handful of drugs, touted off-label uses, offered kickbacks to medical providers and improperly billed Medicaid. Florida’s cut will include $31.8 in federal monies and $24.9 million for the state’s Medicaid portion.
“I am proud to say that this agreement makes Florida whole for the deceptive practices that misled consumers and defrauded the Medicaid program out of money,” Attorney General Pam Bond said in a statement.