In Aycock v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 769 F.3d 1063 (11th Cir. 2014) (No. 13-14060), the Eleventh Circuit addressed a tobacco company’s challenge to a $6 million verdict against it in a wrongful death negligence case.  Plaintiff alleged that her decedent died from lung cancer caused by smoking.  Defendant attempted to defend on the ground that decedent’s death resulted from other causes, including alcohol abuse, and noted that the decedent’s family’s decision not to permit a pulmonary biopsy left the matter in some doubt.  The Eleventh Circuit deemed error the trial court’s decisions:  (i) to impose the same standard of proof on defendant’s proposed alternative causes of death that it imposed on plaintiff’s proof of cause of death, and (ii) to reject defendant’s evidence of alcohol abuse on the issue of causation based upon Federal Rule of Evidence 403’s balancing test.  As to (i), the Eleventh Circuit held that Florida law requires plaintiff to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the cause of death in order to establish negligence, and permits defendants to advance other possible causes of death without requiring defendants to prove any one of those causes as the actual cause of death by a preponderance of the evidence.  As to (ii), the court ruled that the rejection of evidence that alcohol abuse caused decedent’s death improperly restricted defendant’s defense and failed to ameliorate prejudice because the trial court had admitted the alcohol abuse evidence for the purpose of assessing compensatory damages.  Thus, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the judgment for plaintiff and remanded for a new trial.