R.J. Reynolds confident Engle verdict will be overturned
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., July 14 (Reuters) - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said on Friday it is confident a $145 billion jury judgment will be overturned on appeal and said the company plans to file an appeal at ``the appropriate time.''
``Today's unrealistically high punitive award in the Engle trial is the latest example of why this case is so likely to be overturned upon appeal,'' Daniel Donahue, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Reynolds Tobacco, said in a statement. ``It exemplifies the legal problems that have riddled this case from its inception.''
Donahue said that the tobacco industry's grounds for appeal were too numerous to list, but said the fundamental issue of whether smokers should be treated as a ``class'' would be at the heart of the appeal.
Tobacco lawyers have consistently criticised the trial plan in the Engle class action case, saying it was unfair and impractical to consider punitive damages for 500,000 or more sick smokers in Florida without first deciding actual damages in individual trials.
A U.S. jury said on Friday that R.J. Reynolds alone was to pay punitive damages of $36.28 billion to smokers in Florida.