Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Court rejects $7.1 million Florida verdict because tobacco company admitted smoking dangers in 1999

Posted By on Fri, Sep 20, 2019 at 11:10 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA ADOBE STOCK
  • Photo via Adobe Stock
In a case stemming from the death of a woman who smoked for more than 30 years, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday overturned a $7.1 million verdict against cigarette maker Philip Morris USA and ordered a new trial.

Michael Gentile filed the wrongful-death lawsuit on May 12, 2015 against Philip Morris after his wife, Brenda, died of lung cancer following decades of smoking at least a pack of cigarettes a day, the ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal said. Brenda Gentile primarily smoked Virginia Slims, made by Philip Morris.



The lawsuit raised claims of strict liability, negligence and fraud, which related to allegations that the cigarette maker concealed the harm of smoking. A jury sided with Gentile and awarded $7.1 million in compensatory damages. But Philip Morris argued that Gentile had not proven fraud occurred in the 12 years before the lawsuit was filed, as is required by state law. The appeals court agreed, pointing to admissions by Philip Morris as early as 1999 that cigarettes were highly addictive and that smokers should not assume “light” and “ultra-light” brands, such as the cigarettes smoked by Brenda Gentile, were safe.

“PM (Philip Morris) argues that the court improperly denied its motion for directed verdict on its fraud-based claims because plaintiff (Gentile) failed to prove PM made a fraudulent statement or omission about the safety of its light or low-tar cigarettes after May 12, 2003,” said the seven-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Dorian Damoorgian and joined by Chief Judge Spencer Levine and Jeffrey Kuntz.

“PM maintains that it expressly disclaimed any misrepresentation that light or low-tar cigarettes were safer or less addictive than its full-flavored cigarettes prior to the (12-year) repose period. We agree.”

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.

Tags: , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues

Calendar

© 2021 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation