A federal judge has denied R.J. Reynolds' motion for a new trial in the case of a Norwich woman who won a $28 million judgment against the makers of the menthol cheap cigarettes she smoked for 25 years.
Barbara Izzarelli started smoking cigarettes Salem King cigarettes when she was 12 years old. She was diagnosed and treated for cancer of the larynx at age 36. A Connecticut jury determined in May 2010 that the discount cigarette online company was 58 percent responsible for her injuries and that Izzarelli was 42 percent responsible for her injuries.
The jury awarded her $12 million, but Judge Stefan R. Underhill added nearly $16 million in interest to the award based on a state law that holds buy cigarettes companies liable for interest if they refuse reasonable settlement offers while a case is pending. The interest was calculated from 1999, when the lawsuit began. Izzarell's attorney, David Golub of Stamford, said the plaintiffs had offered to settle for $400,000 in 2001.
In denying the cigarettes online company's motion a new trial, the judge found that the evidence at trial was sufficient to support the jury determination that Salems were unreasonably dangerous and that R.J. Reynolds could have made the product less addictive and with fewer carcinogens.
Underhill wrote in a decision issued last week that he disagrees with the company's claim that a reasonable jury would have been compelled to accept R.J. Reynolds' argument that Salem Kings were not unreasonably dangerous under the ordinary consumer expectation test simply because all cheap cigarette online contain nicotine and carcinogens.