WEST PALM BEACH – On Nov. 9, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal refused
to reconsider its Sept. 14 decision to overturn a 2013 $8 million award
to Richard DeLisle, who sued multiple companies, including R.J. Reynolds Tobacco
Co. and Crane Co., for his mesothelioma diagnosis.
"(Delisle claimed) he developed mesothelioma from smoking
Kent cigarettes with asbestos-containing filters in the 1950s,” a Nov. 17
article from CVN said. “DeLisle, who worked as a pipe fitter in the 1960s,
also partially attributed his asbestos exposure to gaskets manufactured by
After the 2013 decision to award DeLisle one of the largest suits
against a tobacco company and cigarette manufacturer with regards to an
asbestos claim from smoking, R.J. Reynolds and Crane both submitted appeals, claiming
that expert evidence provided in the 2013 trial was not valid.
was no data presented at the hearing showing that chrysotile asbestos in low
levels is associated with mesothelioma,” the Nov. 9 opinion said. “Indeed,
the other experts testifying for DeLisle all rejected such an association. The
trial court’s gatekeeping role is not a passive role. The court should
affirmatively prevent imprecise, untested scientific opinion from being
The overturning that occurred in September offered background information on why the evidence
provided in the 2013 jury decision was found to be invalid.
"We hold that the court abused its discretion in admitting
expert testimony and thus reverse for a new trial for R.J. Reynolds and for
entry of a directed verdict for Crane,” the September court decision said. “We
also address, for the purposes of new trial, the jury instruction issue and the
District Court of Appeal explained that a new trial was ordered for R.J. Reynolds
because the opinions of two of DeLisle’s experts should not have been admitted
by the trial court as they did not offer sufficient causation. Also, the
testimony of a pulmonologist for the plaintiff should have also been excluded for
In regards to Crane, the court explained that although
DeLisle’s only expert offered research, he offered it from several different
types of asbestos studies. The case was based on one specific type of asbestos,
which was chrysotile
The Fourth District Court of Appeal also explained that it
agreed with R.J. Reynolds' complaint that the trial court was at fault for not appropriately
instructing the jury. The opinion also argued that the initial $8 million decision
came without thorough consideration of whether DeLisle actually used Kent
Crane prevailed with a directed verdict in its favor by the appeals court, but R.J. Reynolds could face a retrial. “Crane and RJR were assigned 16 and 22 percent
responsibility for Delisle's illness, respectively, at the time of the trial," the CVN article said.
"Remaining responsibility was allocated amongst Hollingsworth & Vos, Owens
Corning Fiberglass and Brightwater Paper Co., who were no longer involved in
the case when it went to a jury.”
The Nov. 9 court decision stressed that when R.J.
Reynolds returns to trial, the court should focus on both the reward amount
requested (and whether the amount is fair and reasonable) and whether Delisle
actually smoked Kent cigarettes during the time frame he initially stated.