RICHMOND, Va., Oct 15, 2010 --
Juries in both Hillsborough County and Miami-Dade County today decided in favor of Philip Morris USA in Engle cases. The verdicts today mark the fourth time in two weeks that Florida juries in an Engle case have found for Philip Morris USA.
"We believe that both juries today reached the correct result," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. "This string of recent verdicts for the defense shows that Philip Morris USA has powerful defenses in these cases even when trial courts apply unfair procedures that do not require plaintiffs to prove their claims."
"In all these cases, the trial courts violated Florida law and due process by allowing the plaintiffs to rely on general findings from a previous jury with no connection to the specific circumstances of these cases," Garnick added.
The verdicts came in trials of so-called Engle progeny cases following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class action members to file individual lawsuits and rely on general findings from the first class action. Recently, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals severely restricted the ability of plaintiffs in the federal cases to use findings from the prior Engle jury to meet their burden of proof at trial. Neither the plaintiffs here nor any of the other plaintiffs in state courts have complied with the requirements set forth by this ruling.
Last week, both a Duval County jury and a Manatee County jury returned verdicts for Philip Morris USA in other Engle cases (Warrick and Willis).
Today's verdicts were in Campbell v. Philip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds (Hillsborough County) and Frazier v. Philip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds (Miami-Dade County).