After four years of litigation, Pinecrest resident J.B. Harris and a team of trial attorneys have won a $30-million verdict against the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in a Marianna, FL courtroom on behalf of Rev. Emmon Smith, who lost a lung due to cancer caused by his addiction to nicotine. The award was the largest ever by a jury in Jackson County.
Using secret documents obtained from the tobacco companies, Harris and his colleagues proved that the major cigarette manufacturers conspired to engage in the largest consumer fraud in U.S. history by touting the safety of cigarettes while medical evidence pointed to the contrary.
From the 1930s through the 1990s, the tobacco industry undertook a massive advertising and propaganda campaign against the U.S. Surgeon General’s conclusions that nicotine is addictive and that smoking causes cancer, leaving more than 20 million Americans dead as a result of their addiction to smoking during that time.
This case is one of 8,000 currently pending in Florida under the Engle case regime established by the Florida Supreme Court in 2007. Harris has filed 159 of those court cases.