A Florida state jury in Szymanski v. Philip Morris USA, et al. returned a defense verdict on October 20 in the first Engle-progeny case tried in Lee County, Florida. Walt Cofer of Shook Hardy & Bacon and Kamie F. Brown of Ray Quinney & Nebeker tried the case on behalf of Philip Morris USA.
The case filed by John Szymanski was one of thousands initiated after a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that overturned a $145 billion verdict in a class action brought by Howard Engle. The Engle ruling decertified the class, but allowed approximately 7,000 individuals who could have won judgments to utilize the jury’s initial findings in their individual cases. After deliberating for about 3 hours, the jury in Szymanski found that Plaintiff John Szymanski was not a class member.
Plaintiff’s counsel was Morgan and Morgan, and this was the firm’s first loss in a tobacco lawsuit. Morgan and Morgan had netted prior verdicts of $40 million and $90 million in tobacco litigation, prior to this notable loss.
Szymanski marked Philip Morris’ tenth win thus far in the last thirteen Engle cases that have gone to trial.