Mistrial Declared in Brown v. R.J. Reynolds

June 29th, 2012  |  Published in Engle Progeny, Tobacco Litigation

JACKSONVILLE, FL – This morning, R.J. Reynolds was granted a mistrial in Brown v. R.J. Reynolds, the second Engle Progeny tobacco trial that began at the Duval County Courthouse this month. Judge Adrian G. Soud originally heard Brown v. R.J. Reynolds, but recused himself after several weeks of the proceeding. Judge Charles Arnold, who previously presided over Frailey v. Philip Morris, stepped in and granted the mistrial.

Ray Fields Brown started smoking as a teenager and struggled with quitting for years. He finally quit in 1986, but there is evidence that he relapsed soon after. In 1993 Fields developed lung cancer and died two years later.

Robert Shields (Doffermyre Shields Canfield & Knowles, LLC), attorney for plaintiff, put forth a theory of two side-by-side stories – Brown’s life and the Philip Morris story of “deceit and concealment of the facts.” He goes further and asserts that there was a choice involved in these two stories, and that choice was Philip Morris’ to engage in a campaign to keep people smoking.

Attorney for the defense, Kenneth Reilly took a very different approach during the trial. Reilly’s noticeably more casual style led to early laughs from the jury, during his opening statement, as he fumbled with some exhibits and labeled himself “low tech.” Reilly’s theory of the case was also different. He framed the case as one about control and responsibility. Specifically, who was in control of Brown’s actions and who has to take responsibility for it, the answer for each, he argued, being Brown.

Like other proceedings stemming from the Engle tobacco class action, if the jury found that Brown was a member of the class then all findings in that case would apply. Click here to read more about the Engle class action.

You can view the proceeding from openings to mistrial now, on Courtroom View Network.

Watch Robert Shield’s opening statement clip above.