Cases & Deals

R.J. Reynolds prevails in Castleman ''Engle progeny'' appeal

Client(s) R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

On August 17, 2012, Florida's First District Court of Appeal affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of Jones Day client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The case was one of several thousand "Engle progeny" lawsuits pending in the Florida courts. These cases arise out of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Engle v. Liggett Group, Inc., 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006). In Engle , the Florida Supreme Court decertified a class of Florida smokers but held that members of the class who filed suit within one year could litigate with the benefit of certain findings from the class-action trial. The court specified that class members would have to show, among other things, that they had smoking-related diseases that "manifested" before a cut-off date of November 21, 1996.

Castleman is the first appellate decision since Engle itself to hold expressly that class membership requires both symptoms of an illness before November 21, 1996 and sufficient knowledge of a causal link between smoking and the illness "to permit the filing of a non-frivolous lawsuit against the tobacco company." Because the plaintiff did not attribute his illnesses to his smoking until 1998, he did not qualify as a class member and his lawsuit was time-barred.

Lewis Castleman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1D11-4258 (Fla. 1st DCA)