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Searcy Denney Law Firm Reports $3.5 Million Verdict in Tobacco Litigation


West Palm Beach, FL – Attorney Brian Denney announced that a Highlands County jury awarded Theodore Hallgren $3,500,000.00 against Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for the wrongful death of his wife, Claire Hallgren, who died of lung cancer after nearly 60 years of smoking cigarettes made by those companies. The verdict includes $1,500,000 in punitive damages against the defendants.
Brian R. Denney and T. Hardee Bass of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, represented Mrs. Hallgren’s husband, Theodore Hallgren, now 92.  The attorneys stated that the evidence in the trial showed that Mrs. Hallgren started smoking as a teenager, and was already a regular, daily smoker by the time she was sixteen years old in 1938, nearly 30 years before the first warning labels ever appeared on cigarette packs.  Under the standard required by the Florida Supreme Court’s “Engle” decision, the plaintiff needed to prove that Mrs. Hallgren was addicted to nicotine and nicotine addiction caused her death.
Mr. and Mrs. Hallgren met at Chicago’s Hurst High School in 1938.  They married in 1942, shortly before Mr. Hallgren, a Captain in the United States Army, was deployed to the Europe to fight in World War II.  After the war, the Hallgrens settled in the Chicago area, before moving to Florida in 1975.  They were married for 54 years.
“The jury in this case was presented with a lot of evidence of tobacco industry conduct and practices, covering a large span of time,” Denney said.  “The jury’s verdict is not only an indication that they understood the addictive power of nicotine and how Mrs. Hallgren fought to overcome that addiction; it is also a recognition that these defendants deserved punishment for their intentional misconduct, which included directly marketing cigarettes to children knowing full well they caused lung cancer and were addictive and lying to generations of Americans regarding the danger and addictiveness of their product for one reason –money.”
“Mrs. Hallgren is another tragic example of a tobacco industry success story, someone who started smoking as a child decades before warning labels were placed on cigarette packages, who became addicted to the nicotine in cigarettes, and who was unable to break that addiction before it was too late,” said Denney.
“Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company are forced to stand equal to people like 92 year old Mr. Hallgren within the four walls of a courtroom, whereas outside of the justice system they are able to wield their influence through their financial means.  When fair-minded people hear the evidence in these cases, the common tobacco industry defense themes are flatly rejected.” Said Attorney Hardee Bass
A spokesperson for the Searcy Denney law firm said that this case marks eight straight plaintiff’s verdicts in Engle progeny tobacco suits by the lawyers for Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley.



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