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SCOTUS Chooses Not To Hear Florida Tobacco Case

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Flickr user Phil Roeder

The U.S. Supreme Court has chosen not to rule on a ground-breaking case out of Florida. Pitting Tobacco companies against smokers, this seems to be one strike against the corporations.

In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court ruled against big tobacco companies in a decision that has come to be known as the Engle Case. Life-long smoker, physician, and Miami-Beach resident Howard Engle was the lead plaintiff.

The ruling says people don’t have to prove that cigarettes are addictive, harmful and cause a slew of diseases when suing tobacco companies. “Defective” is what the courts called the cigarettes.

“[The ruling] makes it a lot cheaper and easier  for individual plaintiffs to bring lawsuits,” says Sergio Campos, a professor of law at the University of Miami. “They don't have to hire experts, they don't have to drag in any sort of technical information or medical information. It’s already been shown that these cigarettes are defective.”

The tobacco companies claim just because the cigarettes in that particular case were deemed defective and dangerous, doesn't mean all cigarettes are. This is the basis for their appeal to the Supreme Court which has a history of ruling on issues of defendants rights.

Campos says the high court may have skipped this case because it does not pull at the heartstrings.

“It’s a little technical and complicated and the court tends to prefer cases where its pretty clear what the big issue is.”