U.S. Supreme Court leaves Florida jury awards intact in Engle cases — this is a big deal

Howard_Engle
Howard Engle

This is a continuation of the long-running Engle case in Florida.

Many years ago, a jury issued a $145 billion class action judgement against Big Tobacco for knowingly selling a toxic, addictive product to people, and then lying about it. This came to be known as the Engle case ($110 million settlement reached by Liggett Group in Engle case) , named after Howard Engle, one of the main plaintiffs. The Florida Supreme Court  overturned that ruling several years ago, but made a subtle and very important ruling in favour of the plaintiffs that while they could not sue for class action damages, they could individually sue Big Tobacco for the effects of its lies and cover ups on them on their families.

Since then, there’s been literally hundreds of lawsuits filed against Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard and many judgements have been handed out in the millions of dolalrs.

R.J. Reynolds appealed a number of these judgements (RJR has always been the most aggressive company in fighting anti-tobacco court cases and laws), to the U.S. Supreme Court. The total amount of the judgements is about $70 million (the largest single judgement is $25 million). The U.S. Supreme Court categorically refused to hear their appeal, in effect letting the judgements stand.

So, another loss in the courts for Big Tobacco; this is not the area in which they’re going to win much anymore. There is simply too much documentation, much of it coming out through the discovery process in countless lawsuits over the years against Big Tobacco, of the industry’s lies, subterfuge and cover-ups. They were selling a poisonous product and were killing people and they knew it. The evidence is all there.

There are thousands of these cases that will be tied up in the courts in Florida for the next 10 to 20 years. Keep forcing those tobacco company to pay and keep forcing them to pour millions into their legal fees. (Passing on their costs to the consumers and encouraging more people to save money by quitting — seriously, one of the reasons cigarettes are so expensive today compared to 20 years ago is because of all the legal expenses and the $280 billion Master Settlement Agreement reached by Big Tobacco.).

 

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