Philip Morris USA to Seek Further Review in Douglas Case

Dissenting Fla. Supreme Court Justice: majority's analysis "exactly backward," "unconvincing"

RICHMOND, Va. -- Philip Morris USA said it plans to seek further review following Thursday's decision by the Florida Supreme Court in the Douglas case. The court's opinion held that the current Engle progeny trial structure does not violate Florida Law and federal due process.

"We are reviewing the court's decision and considering all of our options," said Murray Garnick, senior vice president and associate general counsel of Altria Client Services, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. "We believe that the court ruled incorrectly in allowing individual plaintiffs to use the general findings from the prior Engle case to prove their strict liability and negligence claims without showing that any wrongful conduct actually caused their injuries."

In the dissent, Justice Canady said that the findings were "too slender [a] reed to support the imposition of liability." Justice Canady stated that the majority's analysis was "exactly backward" and that its reading of the findings was "unreasonable" and "unconvincing" because the findings do not establish "that all of the cigarettes sold by defendants were defective."

The so-called Engle progeny cases stem from a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits and rely on general findings from the first class action.

The case is Douglas v. Philip Morris USA et al.