Our Tobacco Attorneys Are Now Accepting Tobacco Cases Nationwide
If you are a Florida resident, and you have been harmed as a result of cigarette smoking, you were part of a class action suit against the tobacco industry. The suit was won on your behalf, even if you were not actively involved in the initial action. Although the class action awards were overturned, the Florida Supreme Court found that the general liability findings against the tobacco companies were correct and apply to each and every individual harmed by cigarettes. The deadline for filing these cases has already passed. Please visit this site for updates regarding this litigation.
Tobacco Companies Back on Defense
In one of the first of what will be thousands of individual lawsuits following the Engle Trust claims, lawyers are again fighting tobacco companies for the death of a smoker. If they are successful in proving he was addicted to cigarettes and they caused his lung cancer, the jury will be able to listen to the key findings established under the Engle class action case.
Revised Engle Opinion – This is the final opinion of the Supreme Court of Florida. After 14 years of litigation with multiple intermediate appellate opinions, the highest court in the state issued this opinion. It is monumental because it provided all class members with a one-year window to pursue individual lawsuits against the tobacco companies wherein the class members are going to use to their benefit all the binding findings from the class action trial. This opinion is the framework and backbone of every individual Engle class member's lawsuit. Click here to download pdf >
DOJ Opinion Summary – This is a summary of the Opinion of U.S. District Court Judge Kessler wherein she concluded that the Cigarette Companies Violated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. She imposed multiple civil penalties on the Tobacco companies. The actually opinion is over 1,700 pages, but this summary should provide an insightful and educating look into a historic opinion. Click here to download pdf >
Order Denying MDL – The Tobacco companies petition the Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation to establish a federal MDL for all Engle individual cases. Multi District Litigation is a federal mechanism to join all similar cases and have them overseen by one judge in one federal district court. The plaintiffs passionately resisted the formation of an MDL. Thanks to the cooperation between plaintiff law firm, we were able to convince the Court that these cases should remain in State court, overseen by State judges. This is a significant victory for each and every class member. Click here to download pdf >
Morgan Stanley Research - In a research note, Morgan Stanley provided an opinion on the Supreme Court of the U.S. Petition for Certiorari, and the Motion for Rehearing of same. In short, the tobacco industry is seen as using typical delay tactics to keep the plaintiff bar from having certainty in the direction these cases will travel. Click here to download pdf >
United States Court of Appeals Opinion - Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirms that the cigarette companies are liable for violating federal racketeering laws.
Our Tobacco Verdicts
Tobacco Litigation News
Florida tobacco lawsuits may help kill the "enterprise of death"
August 27, 2013
I have next to zero sympathy for John Rizzuto.
Yes, it's a shame he's too sick to play ball with his grandkids or walk his dog.
But that sort of thing tends to happen when you spend four decades smoking high-tar cigarettes such as L&Ms and Marlboros.
Rizzuto — a retired U.S. postal worker from Spring Hill — started lighting up 53 years ago, which was three years after the U.S. surgeon general first stated that "excessive" smoking causes cancer.
Like 50 million other people in this country, he eventually kicked the habit. But then he sued the tobacco companies — and last week received a jury award of $12.5 million — claiming cigarettes are so addictive that quitting is all but impossible.
Yes, it's hard to imagine a less sympathetic party, until you look across the courtroom at the representatives of the tobacco industry.
"It's an enterprise of death. They kill people for money, bottom line," said Scott Schlesinger.
Schlesinger is a Fort Lauderdale lawyer who specializes in fighting tobacco companies. He would say that.
But juries all over Florida are realizing it's not far from the truth, shifting some of the legal blame from the weak wills of smokers such as Rizzuto to cigarette makers.
If this trend spreads across the country, which is starting to happen, Schlesinger said, it could help sink tobacco sales in the United States.
And that, it's clear, is exactly what the industry deserves.
It's happening here because of a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that threw out a class-action suit that included Rizzuto and thousands of other smokers, but agreed with their claims that cigarettes are addictive, cause cancer and are defective and dangerous.
That means when Rizzuto returned to court, his lawyer could focus on showing how his client had been caught up in the scheme to pitch a lethal product.
Tobacco companies have known cigarettes were deadly since the late 1950s, and lied about it for decades, said Michael Cummings, a former public health official in New York who testified for Rizzuto and against Philip Morris USA and the Liggett Group; it's all in the companies' internal memos, which have been available publicly for several years.
The companies provided more legal ammunition with some of the most cynical marketing and manufacturing methods in American history.
In 1954, responding to the first studies that linked cigarettes to cancer, Liggett touted the new filters on L&Ms as "just what the doctor ordered."
With Marlboros, Philip Morris pioneered the process of adding a form of ammonia that reduced the harshness of smoke, allowing addicted customers to inhale more deeply and become hooked more securely.
It's not quite a slam dunk, but smokers in Florida have won about 70 percent of the 100 or so suits filed against tobacco companies since the Supreme Court's decision. More recently, smokers have prevailed in Massachusetts and New York.
There's a finite number of good candidates to file such suits. In Florida, it's the roughly 4,000 former plaintiffs from the class-action suit. Elsewhere, they must be old enough to have started smoking before the dangers of smoking were obvious.
Also, what's $12.5 million to an industry that clears billions annually? Not much, especially because it has a history of delaying payment until every appeal has been exhausted.
But the legal fees and jury awards, which now total more than $500 million, will keep adding up, Schlesinger said.
Their prices will be tacked on to cigarettes, which will mean fewer smokers, and less revenue, and less money for lobbyists and lawyers and, eventually, maybe, the death of the enterprise of death.
© 2013 Tampa Bay Times
June 12, 2009 - New York Times, Policing Tobacco
June 12, 2009 - New York Times Old Tobacco Ads
May 23, 2009 - Appeals Court Upholds Landmark Ruling Against Tobacco Firms
“Without ambition, one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson