Florida Considers Giving Big Tobacco a Break on Lawsuits

    A pair of Florida legislative committees are considering bills that would put a cap on how much tobacco companies are required to post as bonds in liability cases.

    The Miami Herald reported April 22 that the bills would let Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, and Lorillard post no more than $100 million in bond money when they want to appeal verdicts. Currently, companies in Florida must post a bond for the judgment’s total amount if the company wants to appeal after losing a lawsuit.

    Bill opponents said the legislation would encourage tobacco companies to drag out appeals, leading to plaintiffs running out of money or dying.

    House Finance and Tax Council chairwoman Ellyn Bodganoff and Sen. Mike Hardipolos (R- Melbourne) support the legislation, saying the bills will help protect Florida’s annual $205-million in tobacco-settlement payments. A Florida lawyer representing the three tobacco firms linked the bond issue with the settlement payments, saying that it is “just not tenable to continue to make the payments to the state as a matter of cash flow” unless the bond cap is imposed.

    By Partnership Staff
    May 2009

    Published

    May 2009