Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Streak is Broken: Plaintiff Wins $80 Million Tobacco Verdict in Florida

Wall Street Journal
November 16, 2010

In an age when big-ticket trials are a rarity, plaintiffs lawyers and Big Tobacco continue to battle ferociously in courts across the Sunshine State.

More than 7,000 lawsuits claiming injuries and death due to smoking are pending in state and federal courts in Florida, the legacy of the state Supreme Court’s 2006 “Engle” ruling, which required jurors in future smoking cases to be bound by certain factual findings, including that tobacco companies sold cigarettes that were “defective” and “unreasonably dangerous.” (Here’s a previous LB post on the litigation.)

The supreme court ruling has given smoking plaintiffs in Florida a huge leg up; they have so far amassed more than $250 million in damages in so-called Engle progeny cases.

The latest news comes out of Bronson, Florida (pop. 1,049), where a jury yesterday awarded $80 million — $72M of which was in punitive damages — to the daughter of James Cayce Horner, a two-pack a day smoker who died in 1996 of lung cancer.


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