The Jury is Still Out on Engle Progeny

While the Jury is still out, both literally and figuratively on many of the Engle Progeny cases, one plaintiff’s case is going back to a win for the defense.  The District Court of Appeal of the State Of Florida’s fourth district reversed a ruling that originally compensated the plaintiff $2.6m.

Beatrice Skolnick acting as the personal representative of her husband’s Leo’s estate was awarded compensatory damages from R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris. The jury found them guilty of fraudulent concealment and conspiracy to commit fraudulent concealment. However, the defense later appealed because Beatrice had already been involved in a class action against Verizon Communications INC. in 2002.

The class action settled for $10,400,000 and Beatrice received $60,000 out of the settlement, but with such a settlement comes caveats. The defense argued the following:

“The crucial issue in this case concerns whether these provisions of the settlement agreement for the Hicksville class action—in particular,Paragraph 26—bar Beatrice from bringing her tobacco suit, since both are predicated on the Leo’s death from lung cancer. The covenant not to sue covers “joint or concurrent” tortfeasors, “whether now known or unknown.” The tobacco companies here are concurrent tortfeasors with the Hicksville defendants, so they stand under the umbrella of the covenant not to sue.” ( The Full Opinion)

The court ruled that R.J. Reynolds and Phillip Morris fall “under the umbrella of the covenant not to sue”, and in this bloggers opinion the court seemed to say that because the earlier settlement stated “both are predicated on the Leo’s death from Lung cancer” that Beatrice could not sue another company for the cause of her husband’s Lung Cancer, which eventually caused her death.

This is not necessarily a negative in the overall Engle Progeny but an observation that the tobacco companies are willing to fight these cases out until the bitter end. The only certainty is that these cases have some time to go before they are all completely resolved.

If you are an attorney who handles Engle Progeny cases or an individual who is involved in the litigation. Case Funding offers financing to attorneys as well as individuals harmed by Tobacco , to find out more about what Case Funding offers please call us at (800) 543-4043.

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