Tobacco Industry Takes Another Hit in Florida
Big tobacco took another hit in Florida as the state supreme court refused to hear an appeal from an intermediate appellate court decision on a post-Engle trial verdict for $ 28 million. AmLaw’s Litigation Daily provides this fairly extensive article by David Bario with myriad links to opinions, past article and briefs.
The key take away? Big tobacco is anxious to undo its prior loss of a "limited issues" phase of a class action trial in Florida. The prior phase 1 class action win for all class members means that current plaintiffs (who were class members) do not have to prove facts already found to be true by the jury which heard the evidence in the phase 1 trial. That phase of the trial focused on industry’s actions and the reality that smoking causes cancer in smokers and others. Applying those findings again to new trials makes it easier for class members to win current trials limited to individual issues not considered in phase 1 of the class action trial. Big tobacco hates that outcome, and seeks to undo the prior class action loss.
If big tobacco finds a way to undo to the past, it will change class action law in a meaningful way. Its lawyers now plan to file a cert petition with the US Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see if Justice Scalia once again acts alone to protect big tobacco. The story on Justice Scalia’s prior unilateral stay for big tobacco is covered in this prior post.