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Jury Verdict for Philip Morris USA in Manatee County Engle Case



For the second time in one week, a Florida jury today ruled in favor of Philip Morris USA in an Engle case (Willis). The first trial in this case resulted in a mistrial in May.

“The jury’s verdict, along with a verdict in another case earlier this week, shows that juries recognize that plaintiffs are responsible for their own smoking decisions,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. “Even with rulings by the trial court that gave the plaintiff an unfair advantage in violation of Florida law and due process, the verdict for the defense shows that Philip Morris USA still has powerful defenses.”

“Philip Morris USA will vigorously defend each individual Engle case that goes to trial,” added Garnick.

The verdict came in the trial of a so-called Engle progeny case 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 plaintiff here nor any of the other plaintiffs in state courts have complied with the requirements set forth by this ruling.

On Monday, a Duval County jury also returned a verdict for Philip Morris USA in another Engle case (Warrick).

The case is Willis v.RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA.


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