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Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc.

Supreme Court of Florida

December 21, 2006, Decided

No. SC03-1856

Opinion

 [*1254] REVISED OPINION

PER CURIAM.

This case arises from the Third District Court of Appeal's reversal of a final judgment entered in a smokers' class action lawsuit that sought damages against cigarette companies and industry organizations for alleged smoking-related injuries. See Liggett Group, Inc. v. Engle, 853 So. 2d 434 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003) (hereinafter "Engle II"). The final judgment awarded $ 12.7 million in compensatory damages to three individual plaintiffs and $ 145 billion in punitive damages to the entire class. See id. at 441. We have jurisdiction because Engle II misapplies our decision in Young v. Miami Beach Improvement Co., 46 So. 2d 26 (Fla. 1950). See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.

For the reasons explained more fully in this opinion, although we approve the Third District's reversal of the $ 145 billion class action punitive damages award, we quash the remainder of the Third District's decision.  [**5]  A majority of the Court (Anstead, Pariente, Lewis and Quince) holds that the compensatory damages award in favor of Mary Farnan in the amount of $ 2,850,000 and Angie Della Vecchia in the amount of $ 4,023,000 should be reinstated. However, the court unanimously agrees that the compensatory damages award in favor of Frank Amodeo must be vacated based on the statute of limitations.

Further, a majority of the Court (Anstead, Pariente, Lewis and Quince) concludes that Engle II misapplied our decision on the law of the case doctrine in Florida Department of Transportation v. Juliano, 801 So. 2d 101, 106 (Fla. 2001); that the certification of the class action and the Phase I trial process were not abuses of the trial court's discretion; and that certain common liability findings can stand. However, we also conclude that the remaining issues, including individual causation and apportionment of fault among the defendants, are highly individualized and do not lend themselves to class action treatment. Thus, we remand with directions that the class should be decertified without prejudice to the class members filing individual claims within one year of the issuance [**6]  of our mandate in this case with res judicata effect given to certain Phase I findings.

More specifically, we hold as follows:

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945 So. 2d 1246 *; 2006 Fla. LEXIS 2952 **

HOWARD A. ENGLE, M.D., et al., Petitioners, vs. LIGGETT GROUP, INC., et al., Respondents.

Subsequent History: Related proceeding at Miller v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 502 F. Supp. 2d 1265, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61456 (S.D. Fla., Aug. 17, 2007)

US Supreme Court certiorari denied by, Motion granted by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Engle, 552 U.S. 941, 128 S. Ct. 96, 169 L. Ed. 2d 244, 2007 U.S. LEXIS 10912 (Oct. 1, 2007)

Related proceeding at Tucker v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104850 (S.D. Fla., Oct. 1, 2007)

Related proceeding at Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 576 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66168 (M.D. Fla., Aug. 28, 2008)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Martin, 53 So. 3d 1060, 2010 Fla. App. LEXIS 19008 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Dec. 14, 2010)

Related proceeding at Liggett Group LLC v. Campbell, 60 So. 3d 1078, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 3584 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Mar. 14, 2011)

Related proceeding at In re Engle Cases, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38588 (M.D. Fla., Apr. 8, 2011)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Hall, 70 So. 3d 642, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 7552 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., May 20, 2011)

Related proceeding at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Gray, 63 So. 3d 902, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 9312 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., June 17, 2011)

Related proceeding at Rearick v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 68 So. 3d 944, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 12910 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., Aug. 17, 2011)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Brown, 70 So. 3d 707, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 14936 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Sept. 21, 2011)

Related proceeding at Rey v. Philip Morris, Inc., 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 15289 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., Sept. 28, 2011)

Related proceeding at Skyrme v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 75 So. 3d 769, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 18404 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Nov. 18, 2011)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Townsend, 90 So. 3d 307, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 2122 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Feb. 14, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Barbanell, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 2657 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Feb. 22, 2012)

Related proceeding at Garner v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 634, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3829 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Brackett v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 636, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3809 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at White v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 633, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3824 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Hetzner v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 641, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3831 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Franklin v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 640, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3825 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Brown v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 635, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3827 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Frost v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3812 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at McGhee v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 638, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3826 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Stamper v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 632, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3810 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Kist v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 633, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3811 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Blake v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 637, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3813 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Campos v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 81 So. 3d 639, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 3814 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Mar. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Douglas, 83 So. 3d 1002, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 4991 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Mar. 30, 2012)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Webb, 93 So. 3d 331, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 5324 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Apr. 9, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Hess, 95 So. 3d 254, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 6882 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., May 2, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Naugle, 126 So. 3d 1155, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 10122 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., June 22, 2012)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Grossman, 96 So. 3d 917, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 10480 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., June 27, 2012)

Related proceeding at Bishop v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 96 So. 3d 464, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 14624 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., Aug. 31, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Brown, 96 So. 3d 468, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 14813 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Sept. 5, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Cohen, 102 So. 3d 11, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 15313 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Sept. 12, 2012)

Related proceeding at Soffer v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 106 So. 3d 456, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 18385 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Oct. 24, 2012)

Related proceeding at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jewett, 106 So. 3d 465, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 18994 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Nov. 2, 2012)

Related proceeding at Budnick v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 101 So. 3d 938, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 20891 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Dec. 5, 2012)

Related proceeding at Smith v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 103 So. 3d 955, 2012 Fla. App. LEXIS 21520 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Dec. 14, 2012)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Hatziyannakis, 143 So. 3d 934, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 538 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Jan. 16, 2013)

Related proceeding at In re Engle Cases, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196287 (M.D. Fla., Apr. 26, 2013)

Related proceeding at, Decision reached on appeal by, Remanded by Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Putney, 117 So. 3d 798, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 9279 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., June 12, 2013)

Related proceeding at Jacobson v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190371 (S.D. Fla., July 15, 2013)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Ciccone, 123 So. 3d 604, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 12726 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Aug. 14, 2013)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Buonomo, 128 So. 3d 102, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 15117 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Sept. 25, 2013)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Hallgren, 124 So. 3d 350, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 16640 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Oct. 18, 2013)

Related proceeding at Roughton v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 129 So. 3d 1145, 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 20727 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Dec. 31, 2013)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Mooney, 147 So. 3d 42, 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 10211 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., July 2, 2014)

Related proceeding at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Sikes, 141 So. 3d 262, 2014 Fla. App. LEXIS 10551 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., July 9, 2014)

Related proceeding at Hancock v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 195 So. 3d 388, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 4846 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Apr. 2, 2015)

Related proceeding at Perrotto v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 169 So. 3d 284, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 10777 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., July 15, 2015)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris United States, Inc. v. Green, 175 So. 3d 312, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 11570 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., July 31, 2015)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Clayton, 177 So. 3d 319, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 15911 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Oct. 26, 2015)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Schoeff, 178 So. 3d 487, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 16577 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Nov. 4, 2015)

Related proceeding at Evers v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 195 So. 3d 1139, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 16718 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Nov. 6, 2015)

Related proceeding at, Remanded by Cinnater v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158619 (M.D. Fla., Nov. 23, 2015)

Related proceeding at Hecht v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1910 (M.D. Fla., Jan. 6, 2016)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Marotta, 182 So. 3d 829, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 222 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Jan. 6, 2016)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Calloway, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 225 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Jan. 6, 2016)

Related proceeding at, Magistrate's recommendation at In re Engle Progeny Cases Tobacco Litig., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47755 (M.D. Fla., Feb. 16, 2016)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Lourie, 198 So. 3d 975, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 12032 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Aug. 10, 2016)

Related proceeding at Cohen v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 203 So. 3d 942, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 13475 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Sept. 7, 2016)

Related proceeding at, Decision reached on appeal by Vila v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 215 So. 3d 82, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15126 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., Oct. 13, 2016)

Related proceeding at Banks v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 203 So. 3d 169, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15665 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Oct. 20, 2016)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Caro, 207 So. 3d 944, 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 18077 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Dec. 7, 2016)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. McKeever, 207 So. 3d 907, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 81 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Jan. 4, 2017)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Allen, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2536 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Feb. 24, 2017)

Related proceeding at R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Robinson, 216 So. 3d 674, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2535 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Feb. 24, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Boatright, 217 So. 3d 166, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 5027 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Apr. 12, 2017)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Lewis, 226 So. 3d 852, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 6361 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., May 2, 2017)

Related proceeding at Fanali v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 220 So. 3d 1209, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 8987 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., June 21, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Danielson, 224 So. 3d 291, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10603 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., July 24, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Pollari, 228 So. 3d 115, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12470 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Aug. 30, 2017)

Related proceeding at Irimi v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 14377 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Oct. 11, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Ledoux, 230 So. 3d 530, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 14753 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., Oct. 18, 2017)

Related proceeding at McCoy v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 229 So. 3d 827, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 15380 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Oct. 25, 2017)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Dion, 230 So. 3d 586, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 16433 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Nov. 8, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Duignan, 243 So. 3d 426, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 16806 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Nov. 15, 2017)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Ryan, 231 So. 3d 484, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 18841 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Dec. 13, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris United States, Inc. v. McCall, 234 So. 3d 4, 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 18842 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Dec. 13, 2017)

Related proceeding at Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Blackwood, 235 So. 3d 934, 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 309 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Jan. 10, 2018)

Related proceeding at Freeman v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 2018 Fla. Cir. LEXIS 359 (Fla. Cir. Ct., Mar. 15, 2018)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Alonso, 268 So. 3d 151, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 1603 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Feb. 6, 2019)

Related proceeding at, Decision reached on appeal by, Remanded by Pearson v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., 270 So. 3d 441, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 3156 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., Mar. 1, 2019)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Ledo, 274 So. 3d 416, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 5519 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., Apr. 10, 2019)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Cuddihee, 272 So. 3d 796, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 6862 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., May 6, 2019)

Reversed by, Remanded by Durrance v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 10026 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist., June 26, 2019)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Schlefstein, 284 So. 3d 584, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 13209 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Aug. 28, 2019)

Related proceeding at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Burgess, 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 2418 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist., Feb. 26, 2020)

Prior History:  [**1]  Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Direct Conflict of Decisions Third District - Case Nos. 3D00-3206, 3D00-3207, 3D00-3208, 3D00-3210, 3D00-3212, 3D00-3215, and 3D00-3400 (Dade County).

Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 2006 Fla. LEXIS 1480 (Fla., July 6, 2006)Liggett Group Inc. v. Engle, 853 So. 2d 434, 2003 Fla. App. LEXIS 7500 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., May 21, 2003)

CORE TERMS

Phase, punitive damages, compensatory damages, trial court, Tobacco, award of punitive damages, class action, district court, class member, entitlement to punitive damages, damages, causation, decertify, class representative, certification, cigarettes, final judgment, disease, comparative negligence, proceedings, parties, smokers, cancer, class certification, individual issues, reversal, circumstances, bifurcation, certifying, judgments

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Judgments, Preclusion of Judgments, Res Judicata, Governments, Local Governments, Claims By & Against, State & Territorial Governments, Remedies, Damages, Compensatory Damages, Punitive Damages, Abuse of Discretion, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Relief From Judgments, Additur & Remittitur, Remittiturs, Clearly Erroneous Review, General Overview, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Appellate Review, Certification of Classes, Law of the Case, Prerequisites for Class Action, Commonality, Maintainability, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate, Trials, Separate Trials, Certification of Classes, Decertification, Bill of Rights, Trial by Jury in Civil Actions, Closing Arguments, Improper Remarks, Objections to Closing Arguments, Motions for Mistrial, Motions for New Trials, Torts, Procedural Matters, Multiple Defendants, Joint & Several Liability