U.S. Supreme Court sides against Big Tobacco in Florida litigation
The U.S. Supreme Court denied a tobacco industry appeal Monday in Florida litigation that stretches back almost two decades.
With billions of dollars potentially at stake, hundreds of Florida smokers and their families can still press forward with lawsuits over cancer, emphysema and other maladies.
According to one Wall Street analyst, Florida litigation is one of Big Tobacco's two largest areas of legal exposure.
At issue is whether Floridians can pursue individual lawsuits based on jury findings from a class-action suit that was thrown out years ago. The class-action jury had found that the tobacco industry conspired to withhold evidence that their product was dangerous.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled several times that people who were part of the class-action case could still use that conspiracy finding when pursuing suits as individuals. The industry appealed the latest cases, totaling about $70 million, citing violation of due process. By rejecting that appeal Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court let the Florida law stand.
So far, 110 cases have already been tried, with about $500 million in outstanding verdicts, according to a Morgan Stanley analysis in May.