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    Philip Morris USA Wins Engle Progeny Case

    Jury rules in favor of the tobacco giant, determining the plaintiff failed to meet the criteria established to prevail at trial, the company reported.

    RICHMOND, Va. -- A Pinellas County jury ruled in favor of Philip Morris USA in one of the first tobacco lawsuits following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action, but allowed former class members to file individual lawsuits, according to the company.

    "The jury reached the correct result and determined that the plaintiff failed to meet the criteria established by this particular court to prevail at trial," Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, said in a statement speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA.

    Garnick said this case was the third tried to a verdict since the Florida Supreme Court's decision, which allowed former Engle class members to proceed by relying on findings by the former Engle jury.

    Approximately 4,000 claims, or roughly half of those filed in the wake of the Florida Supreme Court's decision in the Engle case, are pending in federal court and have been put on hold pending a federal appeals court review of the constitutional issues that arise from allowing the plaintiff to rely on prior Engle jury findings, the company stated.

    "The jury's verdict in this case shows that Philip Morris USA still has powerful defenses in these cases even when the trial court misinterprets the Florida Supreme Court's holding in Engle and allows the plaintiff to improperly rely on a prior jury's findings that have no connection with the plaintiff," said Garnick in a company release. "Philip Morris USA will vigorously defend each individual Engle progeny case that goes to trial. We continue to believe each plaintiff must prove the essential elements of their claims and that we continue to have very strong defenses to these type of cases."

    The case is Gelep v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA.

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