Hausfeld, along with co-counsel Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein and Bernheim Kelley Battista, achieve $200 million jury verdict against RJ Reynolds

Washington, D.C. (October 5, 2023) Hausfeld, along with co-counsel Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein and Bernheim Kelley Battista, has achieved a significant victory in Massachusetts state court in Boston on behalf of the family of Rita Jones after a 3-week trial against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

An 8-person jury awarded the family of Mrs. Jones $50 million in compensatory damages, along with an additional $150 million in punitive damages. Hausfeld developed the case for trial, and our co-counsel Randy Rosenblum, of Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, and Walter Kelley, with Bernheim Kelley Battista, successfully tried the case, resulting in the victory on behalf of Mrs. Jones’ family.

“Rita Jones was the matriarch of a large and tightknit family. Her long illness and ultimate death from smoking-related lung cancer devastated her family. Hausfeld is happy with this victory and the ability to provide justice on behalf of Rita Jones and her entire family,” Hausfeld Partner James D. Gotz said.

Rita Jones was a non-smoker until she received her first cigarettes as free samples in 1964 when she was 16 years old. The cigarettes were Newport cigarettes manufactured by Lorillard, the predecessor to RJ Reynolds. Newport, a very popular menthol cigarette at the time, was heavily marketed, including in Black urban neighborhoods in Boston. After receiving the sample cigarettes, Rita started purchasing packs on her own, and soon she was a pack-a-day smoker. She smoked for 50 years and made multiple attempts to quit. She was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away a few years ago.

In the three-week trial, Rita Jones’ trial team presented evidence based on expert witness testimony and internal tobacco industry documents that Reynolds engaged in a five-decade conspiracy with other tobacco companies to create doubt about the cancer risks from smoking, and to deny that smoking was addictive. In a separate claim, the Jones trial team presented evidence that there were three safer alternative cigarette designs, and that the brand that Rita Jones smoked (Newport cigarettes) were unreasonably dangerous. A third claim was that Reynolds distributed free cigarettes to minors, which was illegal.

“We appreciate the focused attention paid by the jury throughout this important trial, and thank them for the thoroughness they employed during the over 13 hours of deliberation that took place to get to this successful result,” said Walter Kelley.

Trial attorney Randy Rosenblum added, “These are hard fought cases and the lawyers for RJ Reynolds always present a challenging defense, which is often successful. In this case, we were fortunate that we were able to present the evidence that supported our three claims.”

About Hausfeld

Hausfeld is a leading global law firm with offices in Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, London, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Stockholm, and Washington, DC. The firm has a broad range of complex litigation expertise, particularly in antitrust/competition, financial services, sports and entertainment, environmental, mass torts, consumer protection, and human rights matters, often with an international dimension. Hausfeld aims to achieve the best possible results for clients through its practical and commercial approach, avoiding litigation where feasible, yet litigating robustly when necessary. Hausfeld’s extensive experience with alternative and innovative fee models offers clients a diverse menu of engagement options and maximum flexibility in terms of managing their cost exposure.

Hausfeld is the only claimants’ firm to be ranked by The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners as a top tier firm in private enforcement of antitrust/competition law in both the United States and Europe. Additionally, the firm has National Tier 1 Rankings in “Best Law Firms” in Antitrust and Litigation-Antitrust.

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