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Florida Third DCA affirms directed verdict for defendant tobacco company on plaintiff’s punitive damages claims in Engle-progeny tobacco case

On August 5, 2020, in Hardin v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 3D18-0958, an Engle- progeny tobacco case, the Florida Third DCA affirmed a trial court’s directed verdict in favor of the defendant tobacco company regarding the plaintiff’s punitive damages claims.  The Third DCA noted that the plaintiff was required to present evidence not only that R.J. Reynolds was guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence, but also that such misconduct or gross negligence was related to the plaintiff’s product liability claims and was a substantial cause of the decedent’s COPD and death.  The Third DCA further observed that plaintiff’s key expert witness never testified that R.J. Reynolds’s misconduct was a substantial cause of the decedent’s COPD or death.