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Tobacco Smokers and Survivors To Share $600 Million in Florida

Posted on April 22, 2008

Thousands of Floridians who have been injured by cigarettes will be eligible to share in a $600 million trust fund set up to compensate smokers for illness.

A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge ruled Friday that Engle Trust Fund set up by tobacco companies will be distributed to thousands, including clients of Farah & Farah and Wilner Block. The distribution will be equally divided rather than based on the severity of illness. Judge David C. Miller said individual trials would take too much time. 

Smokers must have been diagnosed with a smoking-related illnesses before November 21, 1996. A previous jury ruling established those injuries include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema.

Friday’;s ruling was the latest moving the Engle case one step closer to resolving the 14 years of litigation. Miami Beach pediatrician Howard Engle headed a class-action lawsuit filed in 1994 against Big Tobacco. It appeared to be over in 2000 when a jury ruled in a landmark $145 billion against R. J. Reynolds, Philip Morris and three other major tobacco firms.

But that verdict was overturned in 2006. Smokers would have to file individual cases while at the same time the justices let stand the jury’;s findings that cigarettes are unreasonably dangerous, that cigarettes cause numerous damages, that nicotine is addictive, that Big Tobacco acted negligently and that tobacco companies intentionally concealed information about the impact of cigarettes on smokers’; health.  

Knowing they would be on the hook for some damages, the tobacco companies put up $700 million to benefit smokers. That has turned to $800 million with interest. On Friday the judge ruled that Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, the attorneys who brought the Engle case, should receive more than $200 million for their work over the 15 years.

Farah & Farah has joined forces to fight Big Tobacco and bring this litigation to an end.  Norwood “Woody” Wilner was the first attorney in the country to bring a successful case against the tobacco companies and to set much of the precedent that allowed for later favorable rulings.

June 16th is the deadline for the Engle Trust Fund applications to be into our firms.  Please visit our Web site http://tobaccoflorida.com/ to fill out your application including your name, address and the date of the smoking-related illness. 

We are committed to help smokers and their survivors access to this fund. You can learn more about the history of the Engle case from the tobacco litigation page on our web site or call our downtown Jacksonville offices to consult with an experienced tobacco litigation attorney before the deadline passes.