Florida - PM USA to challenge verdict in the Piendle v. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA case..

August 20, 2010 - Philip Morris USA (PM USA) said yesterday, August 19th it would seek further review of a jury verdict in a Palm Beach County case that awarded $4 million in compensatory damages against the defendants and $90,000 in punitive damages against PM USA.

Because the jury allocated 47 percent of the fault to the plaintiff, 27.5 percent to RJ Reynolds and the remainder to PM USA, PM USA’s share of the compensatory damages is expected to be $1.1 million.

The verdict came at the end of a six-week trial of a so-called Engle progeny case (Piendle v. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA) following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits. (Cigarette Makers Face Thousands of New Florida Lawsuits..)

Florida - tobacco companies ordered to pay $2.2 million to widow of smoker..

The Piendle case, like the other pending cases, sprung from a 1994 Miami class-action lawsuit. A jury in 1999 awarded smokers and their survivors $145 billion in damages after finding that cigarette companies negligently omitted and concealed facts about the dangers of smoking. Background: The original Florida lawsuit was filed in 1994 by a Miami Beach pediatrician, Dr. Howard Engle, who had smoked for decades and couldn't quit. The class of smokers was estimated at up to 700,000 when the giant $145 billion award was issued in 2000. (Dr. Howard A. Engle, the veteran pediatrician who lent his name to a landmark class action suit against Big Tobacco, dies..)

PM USA believes the entire verdict nonetheless should be reversed because it is the direct result of numerous errors by the district court, including the court’s rulings eliminating any requirement that this plaintiff prove that the company did anything wrong that caused her injury.”

“This verdict and the plaintiffs’ verdicts in other recent Florida cases all violate Florida law and due process by allowing juries to rely on general findings by a prior jury that are totally unrelated to these particular plaintiffs,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA.

Reference: PM USA to challenge verdict in Engle case, Tobacco Reporter, 8/20/2010.

Some related news briefs in Florida:
Florida - tobacco companies ordered to pay $2.2 million to widow of smoker..;
Florida - individual cases against big tobacco can move forward, can rely on Engle jury findings..;
Florida - jury awards smoker $21M from Philp Morris USA.;
Florida - can big tobacco survive all these lawsuits they continue to lose??;
Florida - big tobacco loses another case..;
Florida - jury awards $26.6 million to smoker's widow..;
Florida - 9 year old case, appeals court upholds $24.8 million award..;
Florida - $300 million jury award to former smoker overturned..;
Florida - jury awards $300 million in ex-smoker's suit..;
Florida - tobacco companies ask court to block ruling..;
Florida - plaintiff drops case to avoid paying legal fees for Philip Morris USA..;
R.J. Reynolds to appeal plaintiff's award of $30 million..;
R.J. Reynolds loses Florida court trial - widow gets $30 million..;
Broward County Florida jury awards widow of smoker $1.5 million..