PM USA plans Engle ruling appeal

Philip Morris USA said it plans to appeal a Florida Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of plaintiffs to use liability findings from the original Engle lawsuit to pursue their damage claims.

“We are reviewing the court’s decision and considering all of our options,” said Murray Garnick, senior vice president and associate general counsel at Altria Group, the parent company of PM USA. “We believe that the court ruled incorrectly in allowing individual plaintiffs to use the general findings from the prior Engle case to prove their strict liability and negligence claims without showing that any wrongful conduct actually caused their injuries.”
In Douglas v. Philip Morris USA et al., the state high court in a decision handed down last week declined to revisit its ruling in the 2006 class action suit bearing the name of deceased Florida resident Howard Engle. Tobacco companies asked the court for a review, saying general use of findings from the original Engle trial violated their rights to due process. In last week’s 6-1 ruling, Justice Charles Canady in a dissenting opinion wrote the high court ruling on findings was “unreasonable” and “unconvincing” because the findings do not establish “that all of the cigarettes sold by defendants were defective,” according to excerpts in the PM USA statement. (ci)

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