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Deadline approaches for individual FL tobacco suits

Bloomberg.com has a nice summary of Florida plaintiffs' lawyers' current rush to file individual tobacco liability suits, after the Florida Supreme Court in July 2006 overturned a $145 billion class action punitive-damage verdict. The Florida supremes held that plaintiffs couldn't proceed as a group, but upheld jury findings that the companies were negligent and sold defective products, which will apply in each individual case. January 15 is the filing deadline.

The last-minute filers include Willie Gary, a Stuart, Florida, lawyer who travels in a custom 32-seat Boeing plane he calls ``Wings of Justice II''. [I wrote at length about Mr. Gary in "NAFTA Meets The American Torts Crisis: The Loewen Case", 9 George Mason Law Review 69 (2001)].

Tobacco defendants will NOT be able to litigate the defectiveness of their product, but they WILL be able to argue that plaintiffs were themselves to blame or that their illnesses or deaths did not result from smoking. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, so each case looks to be a drawn-out affair.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.