Fla. Jury Sides With RJR, Brown & Williamson in Smoker Suit

R.J. Reynolds (RJR) and Brown and Williamson (BTI) Wednesday said a jury in Florida returned a verdict in their favor, finding the cigarette makers were not responsible for a smoker's illness.

The jury in the case found there was "ample evidence" that Emmett Hall, who suffers from lung cancer and pulmonary disease, was aware of the potential health risks of smoking and yet he chose to smoke, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. said.

"The jury recognized and agreed with our claims that Mr. Hall knew and understood the risks of smoking," said Jeff Raborn, an attorney for Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown & Williamson.

R.J. Reynolds is a unit of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., whose shares hit a new 52-week high of $58.95 on the New York Stock Exchange (search) and were last trading up 87 cents, or 1.5 percent, at $58.30.

R.J. Reynolds in October announced plans to buy Brown & Williamson from London-based British American Tobacco Plc , bringing cigarettes such as Camel (search) and KOOL (search) together under a holding company to be named Reynolds American Inc.