Siding with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a $5 million punitive-damages award in a lawsuit involving the death of a smoker in 2007. The ruling came in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Mary Sheffield after her husband, Valton, died of lung cancer. It was one of thousands of lawsuits known as “Engle progeny cases” filed against the tobacco industry. Those cases stem from a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that established critical findings about issues such as the dangers of smoking and misrepresentation by cigarette makers. An Orange County jury awarded $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages to Mary Sheffield as the representative of her husband’s estate. But R.J. Reynolds argued that a circuit judge improperly applied a pre-1999 version of a state punitive damages law to the case, and a panel of the 5th District Court of Appeal agreed in 2019. That led Sheffield to go to the Supreme Court, which upheld the appeals court decision Thursday in a 6-1 ruling. Chief Justice Charles Canady wrote the opinion, which was joined by Justices Ricky Polston, Alan Lawson, Carlos Muniz, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans. Justice Jorge Labarga dissented.

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