Mass Tort Trials and Due Process in the Context of Tobacco Litigation
Susan Beck’s Amlaw article today provides an update on post- Engle verdicts against tobacco companies, and a look at the due process issues the tobacco companies have pending in the 11th Circuit as they seek to avoid Engle. Ms. Beck’s article thus provides an incisive look into the tobacco wars, and some of the consequences of past and current strategies. In short, the tobacco industry successfully opposed class actions as being dominated by individual issues, but was hit with jury findings that are being repeatedly applied against it in individual trials. So, the industry both won and lost, and now is trying to undo the findings based on due process arguments.
Perhaps the industry will succeed in its current due process argument and will obtain some respite. But if it does, the due process law established by the decision also may help current and future claimants seeking to avoid being bound by class actions and/or bankruptcy decisions. No wonder the tobacco industry hired in David Bernick to sort out and manage the myriad issues raised by Engle and other broad claims, including Nigerian government cost recovery litigation against tobacco companies, as previously covered here,