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|ALTRIA GROUP, INC. filed this Form 8-K on 02/01/2018|
Altria Group, Inc. and Subsidiaries
Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements
information), and added the finding that defendants sold or supplied cigarettes that, at the time of sale or supply, did not conform to the representations of fact made by defendants. In January 2007, the Florida Supreme Court issued the mandate from its revised opinion. Defendants then filed a motion with the Florida Third District Court of Appeal requesting that the court address legal errors that were previously raised by defendants but have not yet been addressed either by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal or by the Florida Supreme Court. In February 2007, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal denied defendants’ motion. In May 2007, defendants’ motion for a partial stay of the mandate pending the completion of appellate review was denied by the Florida Third District Court of Appeal. In May 2007, defendants filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court, which the United States Supreme Court denied later in 2007.
In February 2008, the trial court decertified the class, except for purposes of the May 2001 bond stipulation, and formally vacated the punitive damages award pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court’s mandate. In April 2008, the trial court ruled that certain defendants, including PM USA, lacked standing with respect to allocation of the funds escrowed under the May 2001 bond stipulation and would receive no credit at that time from the $500 million paid by PM USA against any future punitive damages awards in cases brought by former Engle class members.
In May 2008, the trial court, among other things, decertified the limited class maintained for purposes of the May 2001 bond stipulation and, in July 2008, severed the remaining plaintiffs’ claims except for those of Howard Engle. The only remaining plaintiff in the Engle case, Howard Engle, voluntarily dismissed his claims with prejudice.
▪Engle Progeny Cases: The deadline for filing Engle progeny cases, as required by the Florida Supreme Court’s Engle decision, expired in January 2008. As of January 29, 2018, approximately 2,400 state court cases were pending against PM USA or Altria Group, Inc. asserting individual claims by or on behalf of approximately 3,100 state court plaintiffs. Because of a number of factors, including, but not limited to, docketing delays, duplicated filings and overlapping dismissal orders, these numbers are estimates. While the Federal Engle Agreement (discussed below) resolved nearly all Engle progeny cases pending in federal court, as of January 29, 2018, approximately 12 cases were pending against PM USA in federal court representing the cases excluded from that agreement.
▪Agreement to Resolve Federal Engle Progeny Cases: In 2015, PM USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (“R.J. Reynolds”) and Lorillard Tobacco Company (“Lorillard”) resolved approximately 415 pending federal Engle progeny cases (the “Federal Engle Agreement”). Under the terms of the Federal Engle Agreement, PM USA paid approximately $43 million. Federal cases that were in trial and those that previously reached final verdict were not included in the Federal Engle Agreement.
▪Engle Progeny Trial Results: As of January 29, 2018, 116 federal and state Engle progeny cases involving PM USA have resulted in verdicts since the Florida Supreme Court Engle decision. Sixty-one verdicts were returned in favor of plaintiffs and eight verdicts (Skolnick, Calloway, Pollari, McCoy, Duignan, McCall, Caprio and Oshinsky-Blacker) that were initially returned in favor of plaintiffs were reversed post-trial or on appeal and remain pending. Skolnick was remanded for a new trial; Calloway was reversed and remanded for a new trial on an appellate finding that improper arguments by plaintiff’s counsel deprived defendants of a fair trial; Pollari and McCoy were reversed and remanded for a new trial on an appellate finding that the trial court erred in admitting certain materials into evidence that deprived defendants of a fair trial; Duignan was reversed and remanded for a new trial on an appellate finding that the trial judge erred in responding to a question from the jury during deliberations; Caprio was reversed post-trial after defendants agreed to voluntarily dismiss their appeal in exchange for a full retrial; Oshinsky-Blacker was reversed post-trial based on plaintiff’s counsel’s improper arguments at trial; and McCall was reversed based on an appellate finding that the trial judge erred in instructing the jury on the warning labels on cigarette packs.
Forty-five verdicts were returned in favor of PM USA, of which 36 were state cases. In addition, there have been a number of mistrials, only some of which have resulted in new trials as of January 29, 2018. Two verdicts (D. Cohen and Collar) that were returned in favor of PM USA were subsequently reversed for new trials. The juries in the Reider and Banks cases returned zero damages verdicts in favor of PM USA. The juries in the Weingart and Hancock cases returned verdicts against PM USA awarding no damages, but the trial court in each case granted an additur.
The charts below list the verdicts and post-trial developments in certain Engle progeny cases in which verdicts were returned in favor of plaintiffs (including Hancock, where the verdict originally was returned in favor of PM USA). The first chart lists such cases that are pending as of January 29, 2018; the second chart lists such cases that were pending within the previous 12 months, but that are now concluded.