Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds File Bond Appeals
Less than one day after Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Robert Kaye upheld a "record" $145 billion award for Florida smokers, Philip Morris Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. each posted a $100 million appeal bond necessary to contest the ruling, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports. According to a state law passed during the two-year trial, bonds are capped at $100 million or 10% of a company's net worth, whichever is less. Both bonds were accompanied by
one-page notices of appeal. The other defendants, Brown & Williamson, Lorillard and the now-defunct Council for Tobacco Research and Tobacco Institute are expected to file their bonds soon (Wilson, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 11/8).
Meanwhile, in a New York case, negotiations between smokers' attorneys and two tobacco companies, the Lorillard Tobacco Company and Liggett Group, are breaking down, the
New York Times reports. With the "encouragement" of Brooklyn federal judge Jack Weinstein, attorneys from each side had been meeting for more than a month, hoping to reach national settlements to cover smokers' damage claims against the companies. Negotiators hoped settlements would provide "a possible model for other cigarette makers embroiled in similar litigation around the country." The largest agreement would have required Lorillard to pay $7.5 billion over 30 years, and Liggett neared settling for $500 million. The settlements would have provided a way for both companies to "limit their exposure to larger judgments handed down against tobacco manufacturers by other courts." However, talks between the parties began to dissolve when the award in the Florida case was upheld. The Times reports that until the Florida ruling was handed down, "the tobacco companies had a strong incentive to strike a deal in New York in an effort to pre-empt the larger verdict." However, once the Florida judgment was fixed, there was "little left for the companies to do but fight it on appeal." Noting that any settlement reached before the Florida award was upheld would have been challenged, John Coale, the plaintiffs' attorney in the New York case, said "It was a long shot when we started. Now it's back to the drawing board. We'll litigate the cases and see how they go" (Winter, New York Times, 11/10).