An article from The Florida Times-Union reports that 499 pending lawsuits may be dismissed against companies that make cigarettes. You would think tobacco companies would be thrilled, but they are not. R.J. Reynolds, Philip Morris USA, and Lorillard tobacco companies do not want the cases dismissed from federal court out of fear the cases may be taken to state court in Duval County where they might find a more favorable jury. The tobacco companies call it an example of “blatant forum shopping.”
Attorney Woody Wilner says he wants to get the cases resolved before his clients die off. Wilner says he doesn’t care whether the cases are tried in federal or state court, as long as the people who are dying of tobacco-related health issues have their day in court. There are more judges available in state court than federal court. A hearing on the issue is scheduled before two judges who sit on a federal panel in December.
Product Liability – After the Engle Class Action Case
Former smokers who are suffering respiratory and heart disease and cancer as a result of tobacco have had a tough time getting to court ever since the Engle class action case was dismissed by the state Supreme Court in 2006. Plaintiffs had one year to refile individual cases against the tobacco companies allowing the findings of the Engle case to stand.
The findings in the case, named for a Miami Beach pediatrician, Howard Engle, established that a) Tobacco companies were negligent; b) Their products are defective and unreasonably dangerous; c) Cigarettes are addictive; d) Cigarette companies conspired to conceal health and addiction information with the intention of consumer reliance on the misinformation; and e) Cigarette companies were liable for breach of express warranty. The suit also established that cigarette smoke causea 16 different diseases including lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, among others.
Many people today do not feel any sympathy for smokers, assuming they should have known the dangers before they began smoking. However, many people became addicted to smoking in the days when the tobacco companies would hire doctors to encourage smoking as a way to calm nerves. The U.S. military even gave cigarettes out to the troops as a bonus. Even the Flintstones cartoon characters sold Winston cigarettes.
These plaintiffs deserve to have their day in court and present their case to a judge. The Florida tobacco lawyers at Farah & Farah are committed to helping those wronged by tobacco companies get there. The tactics of the tobacco giants have been to delay and deny for years. Our lawyers have represented many former smokers in their efforts to challenge Big Tobacco. Contact us today to find out how we can help.