Cigarette and Tobacco Cases
Spohrer Wilner wins groundbreaking $19 million tobacco verdict
\r\nLed by Mr. Wilner, Spohrer Wilner attorneys won a groundbreaking $19 million verdict against the American Tobacco Company in Little Rock, Arkansas. Believing company advertisements promising to "guard against throat scratch" Mary Jane Boerner smoked Pall Mall cigarettes from 1945 until 1981. Years later she fell ill and died of lung cancer. Spohrer Wilner attorneys found documents from 1945 in the files of American Tobacco showing that the company had the technology to remove nicotine and understood nicotine was a powerful addictive agent. After two weeks of trial, the jury awarded her widower Henry Boerner $4 million in compensatory and $15 million in punitive damages. The award, the first in Arkansas and the largest ever in a tobacco verdict outside of California and Oregon, reinforces our commitment to fight for injured smokers everywhere.Download presentation on public knowledge of hazardDownload Wynder-Graham correspondenceDownload other Boerner exhibitsDownload supplemental Boerner exhibitsDownload BAC article collection\r\n
Statement of Spohrer Wilner on Engle class action on tobacco 5/22/03
\r\nAs you probably have heard, the Florida class action was overturned yesterday. The court ruled that the class was improper and that the tobacco industry was not liable to smokers injured by their products. Although we were not directly involved in this decision, we disagree with it. It is a major setback for all those people who have suffered injury.This decision is not final because there will be more appeals. The highest court in Florida has not yet ruled on this, but no ruling is expected for the next two years.On behalf of our clients we will be monitoring the legal situation in the upcoming months. Because we believe there was a partial settlement of the class, some funds may become available in the future to distribute. We intend to pursue this on your behalf, but we have no news about this at this time.We will not be filing individual claims outside of the class. If you desire to file an individual claim, there may be a time limit imposed, and you should contact an attorney, other than this office, immediately.We are sorry to report this news and hope that future decisions from higher courts offer justice for our clients. You do not need to take any other action at this time, and we will contact you if the situation changes. Download the opinion here.\r\n
What''s the law
\r\nWhether a tobacco manufacturer is liable for the death and injury of a cigarette consumer is a question that we at Wilner Block have been deeply interested in for many years. We filed Carter v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., in Jacksonville in 1996 as a test case to answer this question. We asserted that the tobacco industry had acted irresponsibly by failing to warn about the known and knowable hazards of the product, and that they had concealed nicotine addiction from their customers. In November 2000 the Florida Supreme Court affirmed our jury verdict in Carter, proving that our view of the law was correct.\r\n
\r\nThe firm is considering a limited number of new tobacco cases. If you know anyone who suffers from a tobacco related disease, please submit the case to us. It is possible the case will qualify for the Engle class (see below).\r\n
Carter v. Brown and Williamson -- Big tobacco''s fall.
\r\nOn Friday, June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn the verdict in Carter v. Brown and Williamson, making that case the first successful case against the cigarette industry that has been affirmed on appeal.Led by Mr. Wilner, the firm won the first modern case against big tobacco. Beating the huge and powerful cigarette cartel was considered impossible. They had racked up an almost perfect record in court, and few attorneys dared challenge them. But when Grady Carter, a former smoker with lung cancer, sought the firm''s help in 1995, Woody Wilner was not afraid of the tobacco barons. Drawing on a wealth of experience in medical and scientific litigation, Mr. Wilner discovered the documents and the evidence that would, for the first time, reveal tobacco''s dirty secrets of nicotine spiking, influence peddling, and fraudulent science. The $750,000 verdict for Mr. Carter sent shock waves through the industry. Tobacco stocks dropped over $14 billion dollars in one afternoon. Carter was hailed throughout the world as permanently changing the climate for cigarette manufacturers. After Carter, the state attorneys general successfully sued the tobacco industry, and reforms in marketing and disclosure soon followed. Carter, followed gavel-to-gavel on Court TV, remains a landmark case that changed the face of American jurisprudence.\r\n
The Engle Class
\r\nIn 2000 a statewide class named Engle v. Tobacco was tried in Miami. Although Mr. Wilner did not actively represent the class members in Miami, a great many class members are in fact represented by the firm. The class was awarded a record setting $145 billion in punitive damages after over one year of trial. Many of our clients have called us to ask about the future of Engle and whether they might receive any money from it. The answer is it that it is too early to tell. Engle must run the course of appeals through the Court of Appeal, Third District of Florida, the Florida Supreme Court, and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. Until appeals are exhausted, a procedure that could take 3-4 years, no moneys will be disbursed. We at Wilner Block will continue to monitor the Engle class and will post on this website any changes in its status.