Case Detail

Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.
On May 18, 2017, the en banc Eleventh Circuit affirmed a federal district court decision that, out of misplaced deference to rulings by the Florida Supreme Court, permitted the plaintiff to establish defendants’ liability without proving the essential elements of negligence or strict liability—and without even establishing that those elements were actually decided in plaintiff’s favor in any prior proceeding. The decision was a setback for WLF, which urged reversal of the judgment below, explaining that the district court’s application of Florida preclusion law violated the defendants’ federal constitutional right to due process of law. The case arises out of an abortive effort more than a decade ago to try all tort claims by Florida smokers in a single class action. Although the Florida Supreme Court (in its Engle decision) decertified the class, it also held that smokers bringing future individual tort suits could take advantage of generic findings made by the class-action jury.
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4/22/2016: Download the Brief

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