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Supreme Court of Florida
March 17, 2022, Decided
[*834] MUÑIZ, J.
As we will soon explain, this is an "Engle progeny" case, where an injured smoker sues a tobacco company for fraudulent concealment, conspiracy, and other tortious conduct. Today we resolve a district court conflict over what proof is required to prevail on the reliance element of those fraudulent concealment and conspiracy claims—a disagreement that has led to divergent jury instructions in Engle progeny cases.1 ] We hold that an Engle progeny plaintiff must prove reliance on a statement that was made by an Engle defendant (for a concealment claim) or co-conspirator (for a conspiracy claim) and that concealed or omitted material information about the health effects or addictiveness of smoking cigarettes.
John Price got chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after smoking multiple packs of R.J. Reynolds cigarettes a day for most of his adult life. Price sued RJR and asserted claims for strict liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, and conspiracy [*835] to fraudulently conceal. After Price's death from COPD, Linda Prentice maintained the lawsuit as a wrongful death [**3] action.
Price and Prentice's lawsuit traces to 1994, when injured smokers filed a class action seeking damages from RJR, the other major domestic tobacco companies, and affiliated organizations for smoking-related illnesses. Our Court prospectively decertified the class in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc. (Engle III), 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006). At the time of our decision in Engle III, the Engle trial court had completed Phases I and II of the case's three planned phases. The reader can disregard Phase II, which has no relevance to our decision today.
We held in Engle III that, notwithstanding our decision to decertify the class, individual class members like Price could choose to bring individual actions in which certain factual findings from Phase I of Engle would be given "res judicata effect." Engle III, 945 So. 2d at 1277. Those findings have come to be known as the "approved Phase I findings." The individual class member lawsuits, of which there have been thousands, are usually referred to as "Engle progeny" cases.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
338 So. 3d 831 *; 2022 Fla. LEXIS 462 **; 47 Fla. L. Weekly S 78
LINDA PRENTICE, etc., Petitioner, vs. R.J. REYNOLDS TOBACCO COMPANY, Respondent.
Prior History: [**1] Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal Direct Conflict of Decisions. First District — Case No. 1D17-2104. (Duval County).
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Prentice, 290 So. 3d 963, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 16147, 2019 WL 5432089 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist., Oct. 24, 2019)
concealment, progeny, Phase, addictiveness, conspiracy, smoking, fraudulent concealment, health effects, misleading, cases, smokers, smoke a cigarette, defendants', decisions, infer, material information, tobacco company, advertisements, cigarettes, trial court, misrepresentation, detriment, pervasive, tobacco, material fact, fraudulent, disclose, prevail, silence, conspiracy claim
Antitrust & Trade Law, Consumer Protection, Tobacco Products, Federal Cigarette Labeling & Advertising Act, Business & Corporate Compliance, Governments, Agriculture & Food, Smoking Bans, State Regulation, Civil Procedure, Statute of Limitations, Tolling of Statute of Limitations, Fraudulent Concealment, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud, Elements, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Inferences & Presumptions, Inferences, Governments, Courts, Common Law, Nondisclosure