Courtroom View Network has selected one of Shook’s cases for its list of the “Top 10 Most Impressive Defense Verdicts” of 2018. Led by Partner Ken Reilly, the Shook team obtained a defense verdict after a nine-day retrial on the sole issue for the jury: whether, by clear and convincing evidence, punitive damages were warranted. Although the plaintiff asked for $9 million, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict for the defense.
In a 2013 trial, a jury had awarded the Engle-class plaintiff $500,000 in compensatory damages, but apportioned 80 percent of responsibility to her and rejected fraud and conspiracy claims against the defendants. That finding precluded an award of punitive damages under the existing law. But in 2016, the Florida Supreme Court held that plaintiffs could pursue punitive damages on negligence and strict liability claims, leading to the retrial.
Partners Katie Gates Calderon and Andy Carpenter, with Of Counsel Adriana Paris and Associates Marty Bax and Mary Olson, also were on the defense team. Philip Green and Randall Bassett of King & Spalding represented a co-defendant in the matter.
The case is Starr-Blundell v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 07-02167 (Fla. Cir. Ct, Duval Cty.).