Dana Raulerson for Jean Connor v R.J. Reynolds

Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial District, Duval County, Florida
The Honorable Bernard Nachman presiding

Filed 1995

Verdict for the Defendant

“Tobacco won another closely-watched liability suit. A six-member jury in Raulerson vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, et. al. failed to find the defendants guilty of negligence in the lung cancer death of smoker Jean Connor.”

Plaintiff attorneys: Spohrer Wilner Maxwell Maciejewski & Stanford by Norwood S Wilner, Gregory H Maxwell and Stephanie J. Franda. Otero Mullin & Tomlin by Tracy E. Tomlin.
Defendant attorneys: J. W. Pritchard, Jr. American Tobacco Company, John A. DeVault Lorillard, Foley & Lardner by Steven A. Werber. Jones Day Reavis & Pogue; Diane G Pulley, James R Johnson, Paul G. Crist (RJR). Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice. Foley & Lardner Steven A. Werber. R.J. Reynolds General Counsel, Thomas F. McKim.


  • 1995 – May 3: Complaint filed
  • 1997 – May 5: Defendant verdict


“This individual personal injury suit was brought by Dana Raulerson, as sister and personal representative of the estate of Jean Connor, Valerie Marion Dizor, Joseph Marion, Jr. and Matthew James Marion, against R.J. Reynolds, Winn Dixie, and Lil’ Champ.”

“The plaintiffs alleged that Jean Connor smoked Winston and Salem cigarettes which were responsible for her squamous cell lung cancer, emphysema and death. They alleged that she kept an addictive pattern of smoking, reaching almost three packs a day. The plaintiffs alleged that the incidence of pulmonary carcinoma is due largely to the increase in smoking. The cigarettes contained carcinogens which the defendant did not attempt to remove.”

“The defendant had notice of the relationship between cigarette smoke and cancer at least as early as 1953. The defendant failed to provide a list of ingredients, even when it was known that specific carcinogens existed in their smoke. When research in its mouse house revealed a connection between smoking and cancer, the defendant shut it down. The plaintiffs charged the defendant with excessive delivery of carcinogens causing cancer and other diseases. The plaintiffs claim product liability as failure to warn and design defect, and negligence, concealment and misrepresentation, and conspiracy to create doubt and controversy. The plaintiffs sought compensation for the loss of their mother and punitive damages”.

“The defendant argued contributory negligence, and common knowledge of the dangers of smoking. It argued that the warning on the pack prior to 1969 was sufficient or not necessary. It also argued personal choice, and the ability to quit. The defendant argued that for the last 10-15 years she smoked, Jean Connor was smoking Benson & Hedges cigarettes, not a R.J. Reynolds brand. It argued that Jean Connor’s cancer was not primary lung cancer, but it metastasized from somewhere else in her body. The defendant contested the claim that the industry was not trying to reduce the danger of smoking by outlining ways in which it has tried to reduce tar and nicotine. The case was heard in the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial District, in and for Duval County, Florida before the Honorable Bernard Nachman.”