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United States Supreme Court Sides With Brannock & Humphries

Brannock & Humphries prevailed today in convincing the United States Supreme Court to decline to review a Florida state appellate decision on due process grounds, dealing a blow to the tobacco industry’s latest coordinated effort to overturn the landmark Engle class action litigation.

Since the Florida Supreme Court’s 2006 decision decertifying the Engle class but allowing certain findings from the class action jury to have preclusive effect in individual lawsuits moving forward, the tobacco companies have tried more than 20 times to get the country’s highest court to weigh in and invalidate the process approved by the Florida Supreme Court.  Despite the repeat nature of the requests, the tobacco companies often present facially compelling arguments, each time offering a slight twist on prior iterations of their complaints and bolstering those arguments with dire predictions for the future of the industry if the High Court refuses to end the litigation.  

This case was no exception.  Supported by the United States Chamber of Commerce and other powerful amicus parties, and represented by some of the nation’s most experienced Supreme Court practitioners, Philip Morris and Liggett Group called the Florida courts’ approach “unprecedented” and asserted that it conflicted with “longstanding” legal precedent.  In a response, Brannock & Humphries pointed out that the tobacco companies’ arguments were overblown, incorrect, and uncompelling as a basis for invoking the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction.  After considering the case at a conference, the Supreme Court sided with Brannock & Humphries, unanimously denying the petition and leaving the lower courts’ decisions in place.