PM USA comes out on top in first federal Engle case

A federal jury in Duval County yesterday decided in favor of Philip Morris USA and another tobacco company in the first federal Engle case to go to trial.

Philip Morris USA

Philip Morris USA, a property of Altria Group Inc

After deliberating for less than an hour, the jury determined that smoking was not the medical cause of the injury, according to a note posted on the Altria and PM USA websites.

This is the 12th win for PM USA in the last 17 Engle trials.

“This verdict demonstrates that Philip Morris USA is aggressive in defending itself and will assert all available defenses,” said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA.

“Despite today’s decision and other recent wins, we believe that state and federal courts have put in place a trial system that fundamentally violates our due process because plaintiffs don’t have to prove their claims.”

Tobacco company Philip Morris USA has won or had declared mistried about two-thirds of its Engle cases to go to trial since the beginning of 2011.

Yesterday’s verdict 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.

Prior to yesterday’s trial, all Engle trials have occurred in state courts.

The case was Gollihue v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al.; case number 3:09-cv-10530-RBD-JBT.

The trial was held in the United States District Court Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division.

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