In a landmark decision, a Florida jury awarded $1 million in damages to the family of Robiel Chacon, a long-time smoker of Philip Morris’ Marlboro cigarettes who passed away from lung cancer in 1996. This verdict highlights the ongoing legal battles faced by tobacco companies, and the implications it could have for similar cases in the future.
- A Florida jury awarded $1 million in damages to the family of Robiel Chacon, a long-time smoker of Marlboro cigarettes.
- This case is part of the “Engle progeny” lawsuits, which allow individual plaintiffs to recover damages for smoking-related illnesses.
- The jury concluded that Chacon had sufficient ties to Florida for Engle class membership and that Philip Morris played a role in his smoking and subsequent illness.
- Philip Morris argued that Chacon knew the risks but did not quit smoking, while the Chacon family’s attorneys presented evidence of Philip Morris’ deceptive marketing practices.
- This verdict could set a precedent for other similar cases against tobacco companies and underscores the importance of holding companies accountable for public health crises.
Robiel Chacon, who immigrated to the US from Cuba in the 1950s, was a long-time smoker of Marlboro cigarettes, a brand owned by Philip Morris. Chacon’s family contends that Philip Morris conspired to hide the dangers of smoking, leading to Chacon’s addiction to cigarettes and ultimately his cancer.
This case is one of many “Engle progeny” lawsuits, stemming from a 1990s class-action lawsuit by Florida smokers against the nation’s tobacco companies. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that individual plaintiffs can recover damages if they prove the smoker was addicted to cigarettes that caused a smoking-related illness.
In this particular case, the jury concluded that Chacon had sufficient ties to Florida for Engle class membership and that Philip Morris played a role in his smoking and subsequent illness. The jury awarded $800,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages.
Philip Morris argued that Chacon knew the dangers of cigarettes but did not make a serious effort to quit. They also contended that US tobacco industry marketing did not influence Chacon’s decision to smoke. However, the Chacon family’s attorneys highlighted evidence of Philip Morris’ participation in initiatives to hide the dangers of smoking and falsely market filtered cigarettes as safer.
This verdict is significant as it could set a precedent for other similar cases against tobacco companies. It also underscores the importance of holding companies accountable for their role in public health crises, such as the ongoing tobacco epidemic. The implications of this case could be far-reaching, potentially leading to more significant legal challenges for tobacco companies in the future.