Each Friday we highlight the week’s Engle progeny cases and look ahead to next week.
After more than six days of voir dire, Judge Abby Cynamon declared a mistrial Wednesday upon the agreement of both parties.
This was the third scheduled trial for the case. The first attempt, in May 2010, also led to a mistrial during jury selection. A trial in September 2010 resulted in a defense verdict after the jury found the Engle claim barred by the statute of limitations. That decision was set aside on appeal and the case remanded for this proceeding.
A new trial is expected sometime next year. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court continues to weigh an open issue in the previous trial's appeal, concerning the effect of Florida's statute of repose on Engle progeny claims.
Helen Taylor's addiction to smoking led to the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to an expert on tobacco and addiction in testimony as trial opened Thursday.
Dr. David Burns, an expert on the tobacco industry and addiction, said Taylor's "nicotine addiction was the principle driving force to her continued smoking" from the 1950s until she quit this year. Burns told jurors that Taylor's decades of smoking, fueled by her nicotine addiction, ultimately caused her COPD. "It's the need for that nicotine, every half-hour or so in (Taylor's) case... that leads to the regular, all-day long repetitive exposure" that damaged Taylor's lungs.
R.J. Reynolds is the sole defendant in the suit, and the case looks to turn on its role in Taylor's smoking history. In opening statements Thursday, the defense focused on their contention that Taylor only smoked R.J. Reynolds brand cigarettes for 10 years, from 1962 to 1972, which they contended was insufficient to cause her COPD.
Next week: Plaintiff's counsel will delve into the heart of their case in chief, with Helen Taylor expected to testify.