In December 2006, the Florida Supreme Court breathed new life into a case against the tobacco industry that had worked its way through the courts since 1994. The case is known as the Engle case.
The Supreme Court upheld a landmark jury verdict finding Big Tobacco liable for smoking-related injuries and deaths, but the court said that smokers and their loved ones must bring individual suits in order to prove that smoking harmed them and to prove their individual damages. The deadline for filing Engle lawsuits now has passed.
In addition to such lawsuits being brought, Big Tobacco created a fund that was paid out to qualifying class members. The deadline for participating in the distribution of that fund also has passed.
What Exactly Does the Engle Case Mean?
After a year-long trial, the Engle jury found that:
- Cigarettes are unreasonably dangerous;
- Cigarettes cause numerous types of cancer;
- Nicotine is addictive;
- Big Tobacco has acted negligently; and
- Even though they knew about these dangers, tobacco companies intentionally concealed information from consumers about the impact of cigarettes on their health.
The jury also found that smoking causes (among other diseases):
- Lung cancer
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Buerger’s disease
The Florida Supreme Court upheld all of these findings and said that in any individual Engle suits, these jury findings would apply and would not have to be proven again. Florida’s trial courts have followed this ruling and applied the findings in each of the trials thus far.