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Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District
June 3, 2020, Opinion Filed
[*176] HENDON, J.
In this Engle-progeny1 action, the defendant below, Philip Morris USA, Inc. ("Philip Morris"), appeals from a final judgment entered pursuant to a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff below, Brenda Chadwell ("Plaintiff" or "Mrs. Chadwell") as personal representative of the estate of her husband, James L. Chadwell ("Mr. Chadwell").2 We affirm. We also certify conflict with two decisions of the First District Court of Appeal.
A. Asbestos Litigation
Prior to filing the action against Philip Morris, the Plaintiff filed suit against various asbestos companies. The Plaintiff, through her attorney, submitted an unsigned Individualized [**2] Review Claim form to the Eagle Picher Industries Personal Injury Settlement Trust. The claim form indicated that Mr. Chadwell's father, Johnnie Chadwell, was directly exposed to asbestos for decades through various jobs, and that Mr. Chadwell was indirectly exposed to asbestos through his father's clothing. The claim form further indicated that Mr. Chadwell was diagnosed with, and died of, lung cancer in 1993, and that his death was "asbestos related." As to Mr. Chadwell's smoking history, the claim form indicated that he smoked one pack of cigarettes per day from 1978 to 1991. The Plaintiff eventually settled the asbestos litigation for approximately $10,000.
B. 2010 Tobacco Litigation against Philip Morris
In 2010, the Plaintiff filed suit against Philip Morris. In the operative complaint, the Plaintiff alleged Mr. Chadwell was an Engle class member who was addicted to cigarettes manufactured, marketed, and sold by Philip Morris, and that Mr. Chadwell's addiction caused him to develop lung cancer, which resulted in his death. The [*177] Plaintiff alleged counts for strict liability, negligence, civil conspiracy to fraudulently conceal, and fraudulent concealment. The Plaintiff sought both [**3] compensatory and punitive damages.
Prior to trial, Philip Morris deposed Mrs. Chadwell regarding Mr. Chadwell's exposure to asbestos and the asbestos litigation. During the deposition, Mrs. Chadwell testified that the asbestos lawsuit did not relate to the death of her husband, but only to his possible exposure to asbestos through his father's exposure to asbestos. Mrs. Chadwell denied having made any claims in the asbestos lawsuit that Mr. Chadwell's cancer was related to his exposure to asbestos, as there was nothing in his records indicating that his lung cancer was caused by asbestos. During the deposition, she also acknowledged that she settled the asbestos litigation with various companies for over $10,000.
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306 So. 3d 174 *; 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 7653 **; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P20,915; 45 Fla. L. Weekly D 1314; 2020 WL 2892407
Philip Morris USA, Inc., Appellant/Cross-Appellee, vs. Brenda Chadwell, etc., Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
Notice: NOT FINAL UNTIL DISPOSITION OF TIMELY FILED MOTION FOR REHEARING.
Prior History: [**1] An Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Jacqueline Hogan Scola, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 10-17931.
Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246, 2006 Fla. LEXIS 2952 (Fla., Dec. 21, 2006)
asbestos, concealed, trial court, smoked, claim form, cigarettes, lung cancer, addictive, omission, misleading, detriment, fraudulent concealment, advertising, material fact, cross-examine, progeny, health effects, per day, misinformation, directed verdict, tobacco company, instructions, questions, tobacco, legal cause, credibility, smoker, detrimental reliance, exposure to asbestos, material information
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Evidence, Credibility of Witnesses, Impeachment, Bias, Motive & Prejudice, Relevance, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence, Confusion, Prejudice & Waste of Time, Admissibility, Procedural Matters, Rulings on Evidence, De Novo Review, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Directed Verdicts, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud, Elements, Nondisclosure, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Burdens of Proof, Burden Shifting, Jury Trials, Jury Instructions, Burdens of Proof