Bloomberg Law
July 1, 2021, 9:17 PM

George Orwell, Oscar Wilde Help Topple $37 Million Tobacco Award

Peter Hayes
Peter Hayes

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. won dismissal of a $37 million jury award to the estate of a deceased smoker, after a Florida appeals court found plaintiffs’ counsel’s references to infamous literary characters improperly inflamed the jury against the companies.

Counsel for the estate of Rita Mahfuz “succeeded” in inflaming the jury by referring to Philip Morris as a “soulless enterprise of death,” and comparing tobacco companies to “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal said Wednesday.

Mahfuz’s counsel read a passage from the novel to the ...

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