The Florida Supreme Court has finally ruled on the Engle case, and has held that cigarette manufacturers were negligent and that their products are defective, unreasonably dangerous, addictive, and the cause of 16 major diseases. The Florida Supreme Court reversed the Third District Court of Appeal, and held that the cigarette manufacturers are liable for a) negligence; b) defective and unreasonably dangerous products; c) addictive products; d) strict liability; e) fraud by concealment; f) civil conspiracy-misrepresentation; g) conspiracy-concealment; h) breach of implied warranty; i) general causation. In addition, the Court ruled that cigarette smoking causes the following diseases: aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer, cerebrovascular disease, cervical cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer (specifically, adenocarinoma, large cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma), complications of pregnancy, oral cavity/tongue cancer, pancreatic cancer, peripheral vascular disease, pharyngeal cancer, and stomach cancer.
Each of these findings on liability need not be proven at trial by class members who file individual claims in Florida within the year (res judicata). At trial, individual members of the class will need to prove that they smoked a defendant’s product, that the smoking caused their specific case of whichever disease is at issue, and that they relied on a defendant’s fraudulent claims (but only if fraud is alleged in the complaint and it need not be). While the companies can defend these cases, they cannot claim that they were not negligent, that their products are not defective or unreasonably dangerous and addictive, that smoking does not cause the 16 aforementioned diseases, or otherwise deny any of the other findings that the Court determined were binding on these subsequent cases.
The decision is available at http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/decisions/2006/sc03-1856.pdf
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of smoking cigarretes, please immediately contact the Law Office of The Trop Law Group today.