Florida Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Smoker’s Death
The Florida Supreme Court is currently hearing an appeal from several tobacco companies that a $2.5 million Tampa jury verdict awarded to a smoker’s surviving spouse should be thrown out. The high profile attorney representing the companies is calling into question the Engle ruling, claiming that it violates his clients’ due process rights.
In the landmark Engle ruling, the high court upheld a lower court jury finding that tobacco companies knowingly sold a dangerous product and hid that fact from the public. The court decertified a statewide class action and threw out the $145 billion punitive damage against the industry, stating that the 8,000 class members would have to file individual lawsuits against tobacco companies.
However, the court endorsed the jury finding that the tobacco companies were negligent, conspired to hide information on smoking dangers, and sold defective products. In other words, plaintiff’s wouldn’t have to keep re-inventing the wheel with each lawsuit, but could point to Engle as proof that tobacco companies had been negligent and had sold dangerous and defective products.
The attorney, who is representing Philip Morris USA Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Liggett Group LLC in the case before the court, maintains that regardless of the Engle ruling, plaintiffs should have to prove the defects in each brand of cigarette they may have smoked.
If the high court agrees with this reasoning, it could make it more difficult for sick smokers or their survivors to win lawsuits stemming from the Engle decision.
The Tampa tobacco litigation lawyers at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville will be keeping a close eye on this case as it develops. As usual, Big Tobacco is pulling out all the stops to defend their dangerous and defective products. If you have a question regarding ongoing tobacco litigation and what your legal options might be, we’re here to answer your questions and review your case. Call us at (800) 533-3555.
By Eddie Farah