September 30, 2016 7:50 PM ET


Company Overview of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

Company Overview

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company manufactures and markets cigarettes for adult tobacco consumers in the United States. It offers its products through a network of retailers and wholesalers. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company was formerly known as Brown & Williamson U.S.A., Inc. The company was founded in 1875 and is based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company operates as a subsidiary of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc.

401 North Main Street

Winston-Salem, NC 27101

United States

Founded in 1875





Key Executives for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

President and Chief Operating Officer
Age: 45
Chief Financial Officer
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Age: 58
Senior Vice President of Research & Development
Age: 55
Senior Vice President of Strategy & Planning
Compensation as of Fiscal Year 2016.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Key Developments

Reynolds and Philip Morris USA Face Damages in Engle Case

A Florida jury awarded $6.1 million in compensatory damages to the widow of a smoker who died in 2000 from smoking-related lung cancer that spread to his brain. Marilyn Oshinsky-Blacker, sued R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA, claiming they conspired to hide the dangers of smoking that she said led to the death of her husband, Dennis. The manufacturers disputed the cause of death, saying he developed a form of lung cancer not related to smoking. The jury in the Engle progeny cases said that punitive damages may be warranted. Typically, when victims are assigned a significant amount of the fault for their illness, the jury does not award punitive damages. In this case, the jury placed 60% of the blame against Philip Morris, valued at $3.66 million, as well as 25% against Reynolds, valued at $1.52 million, and 15% on Oshinsky. The Reynolds percentage may be reduced or eliminated on appeal, given that Courtroom View Network reported there was no evidence Oshinsky smoked Reynolds products.

High Court Nixes European Suit Against R.J. Reynolds

The Supreme Court announced that the European Union can't pursue a lawsuit accusing tobacco giant R.J Reynolds of taking part in a global money-laundering scheme that sponsored cigarette-smuggling in Europe. In a 4-3 ruling, the justices said the European Union has no right to sue in U.S. courts because federal racketeering laws don't allow recovery for injuries occurring outside the United States. The European Union and 26 of its member states allege RJR coordinated the scheme with the help of Colombian and Russian criminal groups and laundered money through New York-based financial institutions. The European Union claims the company's actions hurt the economies of European Union member nations by depriving governments of tax revenues.

Avera & Smith Wins Florida Supreme Court Ruling against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company for Consideration of Punitive Damages in Engle Progeny Case

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Avera & Smith client Lucille Soffer in a case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company that will have significant implications for other Engle progeny tobacco-related cases statewide. In the ruling, the Supreme Court determined that there is "no legal or principled basis for denying Engle progeny plaintiffs the right to pursue punitive damages on all properly pled counts." As a result, Avera & Smith will litigate the matter of punitive damages in the case before the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, perhaps later this year. The Supreme Court ruling reversed a First District Court of Appeal decision in 2012 that affirmed the compensatory damages verdict in the case, but found that the plaintiff was not entitled to seek punitive damages on the unintentional tort claims for negligence and strict liability. Avera & Smith was retained to try this case in 2011 by Mrs. Soffer and the law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, based on Avera & Smith's experience and success with tobacco cases and successful outcomes in a wide range of other plaintiffs' cases. The Soffer case is being litigated by Avera & Smith Partners Mark Avera, Rod Smith and Dawn Vallejos-Nichols. Maurice Soffer died in May of 1992 from lung cancer caused by smoking. Pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court's holding in Engle v. Liggett Group Inc., 945 So.2d 1246 (Fla. 2006), Mrs. Soffer brought a wrongful death action on behalf of herself and her two minor children against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company alleging negligence, strict liability, fraud by concealment, and conspiracy to commit fraud. The jury found for the Soffers on the negligence and strict liability counts, but the trial court did not permit the jury to consider entitlement to punitive damages on those counts. Despite great personal sacrifice, Mrs. Soffer fought that decision in the appellate courts of Florida for nearly five years before being vindicated by the Florida Supreme Court.

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