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Personal Injury Law: Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer
First Of Thousands Of Florida Smoker Lawsuits Since Engle Underway
By Eddie Farah
Stuart Hess of Cooper City, Florida died of lung cancer at the age of 55 in 1997.
His widow, Elaine, says Stuart tried to quit smoking. He tried Nicorette gum and hypnosis. He tried to quit cold turkey. Nothing worked.
Whether or not Hess was actually addicted to cigarettes will be the key to the case that his widow is bringing against Benson & Hedges (owned by Philip Morris), the cigarettes Hess preferred to smoke. The tobacco company says he was not addicted and could have stopped smoking at any time, according to the Miami Herald.
The case was scheduled to begin this week in the Broward County Courthouse. Lawyers for Hess must first prove he was addicted to cigarettes and that they caused his lung cancer. If they succeed in doing that, the jury can listen to key findings already established against the tobacco industry in the class-action Engle case. Farah and Farah helped thousands of Florida smokers sign up to followup where Engle left off.
Named for a Miami Beach pediatrician, Howard Engel, who was among the first to tackle Big Tobacco, his case established that a) Tobacco companies were negligent; b) Their products are defective and unreasonably dangerous; c) Cigarettes are addictive; d) Cigarette companies conspired to conceal health and addiction information with the intention of consumer reliance on the misinformation; and e) Cigarette companies were liable for breach of express warranty.
The suit also established that cigarette smoke caused 16 different diseases including lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and others.
Proving negligence established by the Engle case will not have to be addressed in the individual trials. But litigants will also be judged on how much individual responsibility they had for smoking in the first place.
There is no doubt that Big Tobacco companies will try to discredit the smokers who are now forced to file individual cases. Tobacco companies will try to prove that these individuals, many of them deceased a) that they weren't truly addicted and b) they were responsible for their own death.
Expect it to get uglier here before the families who are living without their loved ones see any remedy through the courts. The Hess case will be watched by many, including our law firm.Originally posted at InjuryBoard by Eddie Farah
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