Supreme Court Refuses to Overturn Florida Tobacco Wrongful Death Verdict

FL Tobacco LitigationIn a move that may affect thousands of pending cases against tobacco companies in Florida, the Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal by tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds (RJR) that sought to overturn a $28.3 million wrongful death verdict issued by a Pensacola jury in 2009.

The tobacco industry argued that Florida legal procedures are unconstitutional because they do not require a plaintiff to prove key elements of their claims – namely that tobacco companies knowingly sold defective and dangerous products to the public. They also contended that previous rulings by Florida trial judges were too broad and deprived them of their right to defend themselves.

The RJR appeal stemmed from the case of a Florida woman who filed suit against the tobacco corporation for the wrongful death of her husband, who died in 1995 of lung cancer. In a brief opposing the Supreme Court appeal, the plaintiff’s lawyers countered that the husband had died as a result of reliance on RJR products and that he had been a victim of RJR’s and its co-conspirators’ 50-year campaign of misinformation.

In refusing to hear the case, the high court upheld a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that lets plaintiffs in cigarette-liability suits use factual findings by a jury in an earlier case to prove their claims. Those findings, based on the Florida high court ruling in the Engle Case, affirmed, among other things, that cigarette companies were negligent, that they are liable for breach of express warranty, and that they conspired to conceal health and addiction information from the public.

The Florida tobacco cancer attorneys at Farah & Farah are committed to holding Big Tobacco liable for the decades of deception that have led to so many illnesses and deaths in Florida and the rest of the country. If you have any questions concerning your legal options, please give us a call at (800) 533-3555.