The tobacco industry appealed a ruling from last year by the Florida Supreme court that jury findings, including deception and negligence by the tobacco companies, could now be used in individual lawsuits by former class action members.
In the other issue appealed to the nation’s highest court, the industry said the generalized jury findings rested on evidence, arguments and theories of liability that were preempted by a federal law, the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act.
A Miami jury ruled in 2000 that the tobacco companies deceived smokers about the dangers of cigarettes and ordered the companies to pay $145 billion to ailing Florida smokers, estimated to number about 700,000.
The case was first filed in 1994 by a Miami Beach pediatrician. His lawsuit was the first smoker’s suit to be certified as class-action. But, a Florida appeals court overturned the punitive damages award and decertified the class action status, a ruling that was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court.
Defendants in the case included: Altria Group Inc’s (MO.N) Philip Morris USA unit; the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co and Brown & Williamson units of Reynolds American Inc (RAI.N); the Lorillard Tobacco Co unit of Loews Corp. (LTR.N), which trades as Carolina Group (CG.N); and Vector Group Ltd’s (VGR.N) Liggett.
The appeal was denied by the Supreme Court without any comment.
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