philip morris usa
A Broward County jury today rejected requests by plaintiffs to award millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages against Philip Morris USA (PM USA) and instead awarded $86,000 in damages against the company (Hatziyannakis). Today’s decision came in the first Engle case of 2011 for PM USA following six consecutive defense verdicts in 2010.

The decision came in a 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.

“Although the jury refused to give plaintiffs the award requested, the fact that plaintiffs obtained any award is the direct result of improper rulings that meant that the plaintiff did not have to prove his case,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of PM USA. “We will seek further review of this verdict because the court – in clear violation of Florida law and due process – allowed this plaintiff to rely on general findings by a prior jury that are unconnected to the facts in this case.”

“While we plan to seek further review of this decision, we do note that the jury allocated the majority of the responsibility to the plaintiff and also did not award punitive damages,” Garnick added.

Because the jury allocated 68% of the fault to the plaintiff, PM USA’s share of the compensatory damages is anticipated to be around $86,000. The jury found that there was no basis for punitive damages.

This decision came in Hatziyannakis v. Philip Morris USA.
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