On September 26, 2003, Arkansas Federal Judge James M. Moody, upheld a landmark $19.1 million jury verdict in Boerner vs. Brown and Williamson. This was the second tobacco liability case that Spohrer, Wilner, Maxwell & Matthews won against Brown and Williamson, the
nation’s third largest tobacco company.
Mary Jane Boerner died from lung cancer after smoking Pall Mall cigarettes for 36 years. Norwood “Woody” Wilner uncovered company documents showing that despite the fact Brown and Williamson knew nicotine was highly addictive and it had the technology to remove it, it did not.
In May, 2003 a jury awarded Boerner’s widower $19.1 million. In a reversal
of his first opinion, Judge Moody upheld the $19.1 million jury verdict, making it the first tobacco award in the Arkansas, and the largest tobacco verdict outside of California, Florida, and Oregon.
“There was some thought that tobacco litigation was not moving forward and that juries in Middle America would not follow the same path as juries from both coasts” Wilner said. “With this unanimous jury verdict, those comments have been stilled. Tobacco litigation will move forward on behalf of those wrongfully harmed by tobacco companies.”
The Little Rock legal firm of Gary Eubanks and Associates recruited Spohrer Wilner, led by Woody Wilner, as co-counsel based on its national reputation for success in tobacco liability cases.
In 1996, Spohrer Wilner won a landmark case against Brown and Williamson after a jury awarded Jacksonville resident Grady Carter $750,000. Carter developed lung cancer after 45 years of smoking. Wilner proved the company did not warn him about the dangers of smoking.
That case represented a watershed in tobacco litigation because it was the first time a verdict was upheld on appeal by the US Supreme Court. It caused a $14 billion stock price loss in the tobacco industry in a single day.