Capabilities

Engle progeny litigation

Philip Morris USA
2009 - Ongoing

Our firm represents Philip Morris USA Inc. in the so-called "Engle progeny" litigation. The progeny litigation consists of cases filed by over 8,000 plaintiffs in state and federal courts in Florida asserting claims for personal injury and wrongful death. Plaintiffs claim to be members of a class action that was decertified in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006).

Our firm plays a leading role in all aspects of the defense of the litigation, including legal strategy, discovery, case management, trials and appeals. Our firm, working closely with PM USA's co-counsel and counsel representing other tobacco manufacturers, has achieved numerous victories in this litigation including:

Successfully removing cases involving thousands of individual claims from state court to federal court under the CAFA

  • See Cooper v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 586 F. Supp. 2d 1312 (M.D. Fla. 2008) (denying motion to remand cases involving 3400 individual claims to state court).

Obtaining pretrial dismissals and appellate affirmances of dismissals

  • In re Engle Cases, 767 F.3d 1082 (11th Cir. 2014) (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of 588 personal injury cases and 160 loss of consortium cases based on "years of unjustified obfuscation and delay" by Plaintiffs' counsel);
  • Burr v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 559 F. App'x 961 (11th Cir. 2014) (affirming grant of summary judgment for defendant);
  • Elkins v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2014 WL 5690445 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 4, 2014) (granting summary judgment to defendants);
  • Uffner v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 2014 WL 4716144 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 22, 2014) (same);
  • Roughton v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 129 So. 3d 1145 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013) (affirming grant of summary judgment to defendants);
  • Gaff v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 129 So. 3d 1142 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013) (same).

Obtaining favorable jury verdicts and affirmances on appeal

  • Surico (in June 2014, our firm obtained a jury verdict in Philip Morris' favor in the Surico case after a two-week trial in state court in Ft. Myers, Florida. Plaintiff had asked for $2.5 million in compensatory damages and to proceed to a second phase to determine an additional amount of punitive damages.);
  • Dombey (verdict for defendant after two-week jury trial in state court in Ft. Lauderdale);
  • Claudette Campbell (verdict for defendant after two-week jury trial in state court Tampa);
  • McCray v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 579 F. App'x 912, 913 (11th Cir. 2014) (affirming judgment based on jury verdict in defendants' favor).

Obtaining directed verdicts at trial

  • David Cohen (directing a verdict in defendant's favor on plaintiff's negligence, strict liability and fraudulent concealment claims during jury trial in state court in Palm Beach, Florida).

Obtaining remittiturs of excessive verdicts

  • Searcy v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2013 WL 5421957 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 12, 2013) (reducing collective damages awards against two defendants by more than $21 million).

 

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