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News From the Tobacco Trials

02/1/2012
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Our law firm has tried eight trials in a row to successful plaintiffs’ verdicts; involving what has become known as the “Engle Progeny Cases”. These cases arise from the “Engle” case tried two decades ago in which juries heard 12 months of evidence and made a series of findings about cigarettes. Subsequently, the Florida Supreme Court found the following facts about the conduct of tobacco companies including:

  • Cigarettes are addictive.
  • Tobacco companies concealed important information about the dangerous health effects and the addictive nature of cigarettes from the public.
  • Smoking cigarettes cause over 20 different diseases.
  • Cigarettes are a defective product placed in the market by tobacco companies.
  • Cigarettes are unreasonably dangerous as manufactured by tobacco companies.
  • Tobacco companies conspired to conceal from the public important information about cigarettes and the dangers of smoking.
  • Tobacco companies were negligent.

Those of us in this law firm who have worked on cases against the tobacco companies have read the documents used in the Engle case and other cases, including the Minnesota Attorney General’s case. Once you read and review those documents it could not be clearer that all of the findings by the Florida Supreme Court set forth above are absolutely, crystal clear. In fact, because so much evidence and so many documents exist, most of it is never exhibited at the trials of cases against tobacco companies by tobacco company victims – most jurors never see but a small fraction of all of the evidence available .

We have seen the evidence of an industry that has made a science out of hiding, lying and manipulating. We have seen the documents summarizing plans by the tobacco companies to manipulate the nicotine in cigarettes; to create marketing plans that target teenagers; and to create “scientific” data in order to support the message that smoking cigarettes is actually good for you. Tobacco’s marketing plans for doctors to tell the public that smoking is good for you; athletes talking about smoking cigarettes improving their “wind”; and movie stars glamorizing the entire smoking genre – all are diabolically brilliant.

So, quite frankly, members of our firm were not at all surprised that we received two verdicts in favor of our clients and against the tobacco companies; in two different trials; tried in two different parts of Florida. The fact is that when anyone involved in the trial of tobacco cases hears about a verdict in favor of the tobacco companies, we are, well, shocked.

It is inspiring that two juries; in two different geographic locations; with two different sets of lawyers, can reach the same conclusion: the tobacco industry addicted people to a drug they knew was one of the single most addictive drugs in existence and then further manipulated that drug to increase its desperate hold on smokers. Then this industry literally invented the art of propaganda marketing and threw billions of dollars to make it successful.

We are pleased that our clients received their opportunity for justice in receiving verdicts of $3.5 million in one case and $2.7 million in another case. We would also like to recognize the talented attorneys who tried these cases: James Gustafson, Matthew Schultz (Levin, Papantomio law firm), Brian Denney, and Hardee Bass.

These were truly victories for “the good guys”.

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