It always seems that everyone wants a piece of big tobacco companies but it seems that the state of Florida may have finally gotten behind them. According to Jordana Mishory of the Daily Business Review, the newest Big Tobacco Strategy is putting the hurt on potential plaintiffs. The article was featured in the Kentucky Justice Association’s weekly clips.
According to Florida law, “plaintiffs who obtain a significantly smaller judgment than a rejected settlement offer must pay the other side’s attorney fees.” Particularly in Florida, but also around the country tobacco companies have been offering settlement amounts as low as $500 in wrongful death and negligence cases.
Fear on the side of the potential plaintiffs of having to pay opposing attorney fees has caused numerous people to drop tobacco lawsuits. Such was the case with Jerome Cohen of Fort Lauderdale. According to Cohen’s attorney, his client, who suffers from lung cancer, dropped the case because of medical reasons. But Philip Morris USA parent company Altria Group Inc. said the settlement was to avoid paying company legal fees in the case of a loss at trial. Regardless of the reason, Cohen ended up with a mere $1,000 settlement. Two other Florida plaintiffs had to pay $100,000 and $30,000 after losing a trial recently.
Altria and other tobacco companies contend that the majority of cases against them are either ill prepared or flawed and in many cases believe that the small settlement amounts they offer are equivalent to what the claims are essentially worth.