Elayne D. Galbraith, Executrix for John M. Galbraith
v R.J. Reynolds, American Tobacco Co.

The Honorable Bruce Wm. Dodds presiding

Filed 1983

Verdict for the Defendant

This was the first case to go to trial in 15 years — since 1970. (It was also trial lawyer Melvin Belli’s first trial since 1970.) Actual damages were unspecified; punitive damages were demanded in the amount of $100,000,000. The Galbraith jury returned a verdict for R.J. Reynolds.

Plaintiff attorneys: Melvin Belli, Paul Monzione
Defendant attorneys: Thomas Workman, F. John Nyhan (Lawler, Felix & Hall). Douglas Large (Archbald & Spray). Robert Weber (Pro hac vice) Isla Vista Market, Preitt’s Market L. Donald Boden (Giffith & Thornburgh).


  • 1983 – February 10: Complaint filed for alleged injury, cancer of the bronchi
  • 1983 – August 30: First amended complaint
  • 1983 – October 26: Second amended complaint
  • 1985 – May 17: Punitive damages stricken
  • 1985 – November 8: Trial
  • 1985 – November 21: Additional defendants voluntarily dismissed
  • 1985 – December 23: Jury verdict 9-3 for defendant.


“Melvin Belli who, in 1960 had represented plaintiff Victoria Lartigue in her trial against R. J. Reynolds and Liggett & Myers, filed a claim of $100 million in Santa Barbara against R.J. Reynolds on behalf of the estate of Mark Galbraith, a three-pack-a-day smoker who had died at age sixty-nine.”

“In 1985, it was the first such action to go before a jury in fifteen years. The jury found neither causation or addiction and rendered a 9-3 defendant verdict.” The Tobacco Observer (Tobacco Institute publication).