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Brannock Humphries & Berman Wins Affirmance of Conspiracy Verdict

Earlier this month, Brannock Humphries and Berman won an affirmance at the First District Court of Appeal against cigarette manufacturer Philip Morris. At the trial court, the jury had returned a $2.5 million verdict, finding that Philip Morris was liable for conspiracy to commit fraudulent concealment. On appeal, Philip Morris challenged whether that conspiracy verdict was supported by sufficient evidence showing that the decedent smoker had detrimentally relied on Philip Morris’ fraud.

The First District Court of Appeal—accepting Brannock Humphries and Berman’s arguments—concluded that reliance had been proven through evidence showing the decedent smoker had switched to a “low-tar” cigarette brand that Philip Morris had advertised as safer and healthier. The First District also highlighted evidence showing that the decedent had participated “in various [cigarette] marketing campaigns by signing up for promotions, returning postcards, filling out surveys, and maintaining a jar full of cigarette coupons distributed by [Philip Morris].” The First District’s opinion—the first appellate decision to address a recent holding from the Florida Supreme Court on detrimental reliance—will hopefully serve as a blueprint for proving reliance in Engle cases going forward.