Apr. 7 2000
Washington, DC - Today’s guilty verdict by a Florida jury in the Engle case is potentially the most damaging loss ever suffered by the tobacco industry in court. Engle is a class action case in which as many as 500,000 Florida smokers could be awarded damages. This is the same jury that ruled last July that the tobacco companies had fraudulently conspired to produce a dangerous and lethal product. The verdict proves the jury didn’t forget.
Most importantly, the verdict paves the way for the third phase of the trial in which punitive damages totaling billions of dollars will likely be assessed against the five defendants, including Philip Morris, RJR, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard Tobacco Company and the Liggett Group.
It is clear that the Florida jury has refused to accept the continued insistence of Big Tobacco that it is not responsible for the enormous toll tobacco takes in lives and money. Instead, the jury has sent a message that lies and misrepresentations about the dangers of smoking will no longer be tolerated, and that 50 years of tobacco company wrongdoing has finally come home to roost.