Marlboro Lights cigarettesWhen the Florida Supreme Court overturned a $145 billion class action lawsuit settlement with tobacco companies in 2006 that would have held the companies liable for misleading consumers about the dangers of low-tar cigarettes, consumers were dismayed and tobacco companies rejoiced. However, the decision by the Florida high court still allowed individual lawsuits to be filed by customers alleging they were harmed by cigarettes, possibly putting tobacco companies on the hook for millions of dollars in settlements to individual Plaintiffs.

Now, six years later, the first of thousands of individual cigarette lawsuits is being heard by the Florida Supreme Court, which may reverse the emotional outcome of the 2006 Engle class action lawsuit settlement.

The tobacco liability lawsuit was filed by James Douglas, who maintains Phillip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Liggett Group, LLC are liable for the death of his wife, Charlotte, a smoker who died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung disease in 2008 at the age of 62.

A jury trial awarded Douglas $2.5 million in the cigarette wrongful death lawsuit based on procedures the Supreme Court established in the 2006 Engle class action lawsuit case. Even though the high court overturned the Engle tobacco settlement, it upheld the Engle jury’s findings that tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid the hazards of smoking from the public. The court ruled that the nearly 8,000 Class Members would have to file individual lawsuits, but said Plaintiffs would not have to prove those factors again in their individual cases. They would, however, have to prove illnesses such as cancer or disease linked to cigarette smoking.

Yesterday, the tobacco companies presented arguments before the Florida Supreme Court to overturn the $2.5 million wrongful death settlement awarded to Douglas. They also presented arguments that would make it harder for thousands of sick smokers or their survivors to win tobacco settlements stemming from the Engle decision.

A lawyer for the tobacco companies said Plaintiffs should be required to prove the cigarettes that they or their deceased relatives smoked were defective and what the defects were.

The justices questioned this argument, with one asking, “Your theory then is … that someone must go back and find the ashes of the burned cigarettes to prove that burned cigarette contained a defect?”

However, they also questioned Douglas’s attorney, saying they couldn’t understand how his wife’s addition to cigarettes “necessarily shows that the cigarettes she consumed from all of the defendants were defective and unreasonably dangerous.”

His attorney responded that, “All of the cigarettes contained the same defect.”

No decision was handed down yesterday, but the outcome of the appeal will be closely watched by both sides of the long-running tobacco liability litigation.

The case is Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. James L. Douglas, etc., Case No. 2D10-3236, District Court of Appeals of Florida, Second District.

Several consumer class action lawsuits are still pending against Phillip Morris and other tobacco companies, with some recent rulings proving favorable for Class Members. In March 2012, a Massachusetts federal judge refused to decertify a class action lawsuit asking Phillip Morris to provide medical screening to for early signs of lung cancer. And in May 2011, a Missouri federal judge certified a Marlboro Lights class action lawsuit alleging Phillip Morris misled consumers about the amount of nicotine and tar the “light” cigarettes delivered.

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  • Anonymous October 17, 2012

    Looking to join a class action suit involving Tabacco and smoking.

    Live in Brooklyn, New York City.

    Thank you

    • susan B January 16, 2014

      Have you found a class action suit yet? If you have would you let me know. If i hear of one i will let you know.I check pretty often but can not find as of yet. Thank you

  • E T Mendoza January 31, 2013

    Looking to join a class action suit involving tobacco, smoking, and sickness from second-hand smoke. Live in Texas. Are there any current open class action lawsuits that I can join?

  • Shellie M. James March 28, 2013

    Looking to join a class action suit involving tabacco smoking. My husband smoked for 56 years and died from lung cancer. Live n Florida. Are there any current open class action lawsuits that I can join? Thank ou very much.

  • David Martin April 16, 2013

    My mother was a lifelong smoker… She eventually died from copd complications… She was given an inhaler as well as sleep breathing treatment… She wanted to quit smoking but never did which resulted in the disease which ended up killing her….

  • CAROL WIGHTMAN August 19, 2013


  • bobby choate September 5, 2013

    my father in law is dying from COPD is there any class action lawsuit to join

  • jimmy g. September 23, 2013

    i smoked for 47 years. very lucky to be here today with all the operations i had.its time to make the tabacco co. get off ther pitty pottys and my 5 hospitel bills, my 12 or 15 dr,s and meds. mutch longer is it going to take ? gkzs9

  • rodney hill September 30, 2013

    I been smoking cigerattes for 20 + years. I have attempted to quit several times but I am addicted. they need to take them off the market.

  • mary robertson November 11, 2013

    I need some people to help file class action law suit please call me at 9197760538 or email

  • L.R. Scott January 11, 2014

    The tobacco companies have admitted wrong and illicit action … I have emphysema, which is incurable. Are there any current open class action lawsuits that I can join?

    I appreciate any help please.

    • susan B January 16, 2014

      I have lung cancer. I can not find one either. If i hear of one i will let you know.

  • Addie Ross February 28, 2014

    Hello. My name is Addie Ross. My husband C.B. Ross died of lung Cancer after years of smoking Camel ciggarites . He suffered a horrible death Jan. 20, 1981. He and I married young, I can remember the commericials he use say that lured him into the bad addiction of smoking. I watched my bestfriend suffer gasping,whezzing, and begging for help. I was a nurse but theres nothing I could do. But now I am 83 years old and now I can help him. I will fight until my death for him with the same vigor that he fought for this country in World WarII. I still see his eyes and his arms strecthed out reaching for me. I am going to fight for my best friend, lover and husband of 36 years.

  • Lorenzo Damore April 10, 2014

    I would like to know what class action lawsuit are available for every member who smoked cigarettes all their lives.Starting at an early age 11 years old my Dad is 68 years old.He has been suffering cigarette related problems.Congestive heart failure.clogged arteries lack of oxygen needs oxygen machine to breathe.for the last three years of his life.He has been admitted to different Hospitals and he just had 4 surgeries.Stents bypass surgery and diffibulater

  • Barb July 26, 2014

    husband of 25 years died of lung cancer in December. He was 59 and had smoked since he was 11. Are there any class action lawsuits in Michigan or do I even have a case??

  • Ray July 29, 2014

    My wife died at age 49 in Dec 2008 due to lung cancer from smoking. Are there any law suits that I can join or start?

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