Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Lawsuits..

January 11, 2008 - Florida lawyers rushed to beat this week's deadline to file individual claims after the Florida Supreme Court in July 2006 overturned a $145 billion punitive-damage verdict, the biggest in history, saying plaintiffs couldn't proceed as a group. The court upheld jury findings that the companies were negligent and sold defective products, which will apply in the individual cases. Plaintiffs' lawyers said the total number of claims filed against the industry may reach 10,000. Philip Morris, the biggest U.S. cigarette maker, faces new Florida suits filed on behalf of about 1,700 dead and injured smokers so far, said spokesman John Sorrells. Reynolds American Inc.'s R.J. Reynolds unit has received claims from about 1,650 plaintiffs, spokesman David Howard said. There is some overlap in the companies' tallies because plaintiffs who smoked more than one brand may name several manufacturers as defendants. Plaintiffs' lawyers are hoping that Florida trial courts interpret the ruling to mean they must do little more than prove the amount of their clients' damages. (Bob Van Voris, 1/10/2008) This action may cause foreign tobacco companies to think twice about entering the lucrative U.S. tobacco market. Click on image to enlarge..

Reference: Tobacco Companies Face Thousands of Florida Lawsuits, Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, 1/14/2008.