Walker v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company
An appeals court upheld judgments in favor of two smokers who sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (RJR) for injuries caused by smoking. The court found that RJR had not been deprived of its right to due process when two juries awarded money damages to the survivors of two smokers. The appeals court found that RJR had a full and fair opportunity to be heard in an earlier class action lawsuit against major tobacco companies (Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc.) and that it was permissible to apply the findings from this class-action regarding tobacco companies’ liability in later lawsuits. Therefore, the court ruled that individuals in later lawsuits need only prove causation and damages specific to their case. They do not have to retry the issue of whether tobacco companies are liable on issues such as misrepresenting the health effects of smoking and producing a defective product.