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Does the US need another MSA?

| October 8, 2013

The United States Supreme Court yesterday denied a request from Philip Morris USA (PM USA) and other tobacco companies to review the constitutionality of the trial structure being used in the Engle progeny cases in Florida.

The 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.

Yesterday’s decision was made in respect of Douglas v. Philip Morris USA et al.

“Today’s decision does not diminish our ability to put forth a vigorous defense,” said Murray Garnick, senior vice president and associate general counsel, Altria Client Services, speaking on Monday on behalf of PM USA. “We have strong legal and factual defenses and remain committed to defending ourselves in each of these cases.”

“Although we are disappointed by the decision, we will continue to challenge the constitutionality of these trials as appropriate. “Even under the current rulings, we have demonstrated our ability to manage these cases over the last five years. Not only has a substantial number of cases been dismissed or otherwise resolved before trial, but juries have returned verdicts in favor of PM USA in approximately half of its cases tried to verdict.”

Meanwhile, a story by Richard Craver for the Winston-Salem Journal suggested that the tobacco manufacturers’ exposure nationally could now be such that they would have to seek another Master Settlement Agreement.

Such an agreement was seen as being in the best interests of everyone concerned. It would provide closure for those who were suffering from tobacco-related diseases; it would ensure that the manufacturers were not forced into bankruptcy; and, because the manufacturers were not bankrupted, it would keep money flowing to state governments that had become increasingly dependent on tobacco income to bolster their general funds.

Craver’s piece is at:

http://www.journalnow.com/business/business_news/local/article_4eb4074a-2f79-11e3-b5bb-001a4bcf6878.html

Category: Breaking News

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