On March 26, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court turned down the tobacco industry’s appeals without comment that sought to challenge the manner in which Florida courts are handling thousands of personal injury lawsuits. The companies that appealed include R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, Philip Morris USA and Liggett Group LLC. The tobacco industry claims that the Florida courts are not requiring the plaintiffs to prove key arguments of their case. The industry claims they are being robbed of their constitutional protections. These lawsuits are brought by smokers and their families.
These individual cases started to pour in after 2006 when the Florida Supreme Court ruled that smokers couldn’t continue to proceed with one class-action lawsuit. These cases include findings that the industry sold defective products and concealed the real dangers of smoking.
However, lawyers have provided caution to clients and others stating that large monetary amounts are not awarded by merely walking into the court room. They still must prove essential elements of each of their cases. While it is hard enough to take on the tobacco industry, the industry has been accused of changing its arguments throughout the cases. This can create an added level of complexity for the plaintiff’s lawyers, as they constantly have to change their defense against these arguments.
So far, 50 cases have been tried to verdict and the judgments against the industry have totaled more than $375 million.