No, I'm not referring to that Simon & Garfunkel song.
I'm talking about Steven J. Hammer, who is beating the pants off Big Tobacco in the wake of the controversial 2006 Florida Supreme opinion allowing for certain jury findings to be applied against the defendants:
Tobacco company lawyers insist the process is rigged.If Steve and his colleagues keep winning, Big Tobacco might even consider -- gasp(!) -- settling:
"We believe the trial courts have used trial plans that are so fundamentally unfair they violate due process and Florida law," said Murray Garnick of Altria Client Services, which represents Altria Group Inc. subsidiary Philip Morris USA. "Each case must be judged on its own facts."
The tobacco companies, however, have lost their first appeal over how Florida courts are handling the cases.
The state's 1st District Court of Appeal ruled against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in December, upholding a $28.3 million verdict for a dead smoker's wife and endorsing the way trial judges have interpreted the state Supreme Court's decision.
Steven J. Hammer, an attorney whose Fort Lauderdale firm is handling hundreds of smoker lawsuits, said the Florida cases have changed the balance of power in the courtroom because tobacco companies are prevented from arguing that their products aren't necessarily dangerous and addictive.
"As a result, the whole story is being told: how they lied to the public, all for the almighty dollar," he said.
If the losing trend and multimillion-dollar verdicts continue, some legal experts said the tobacco companies may rethink their long-standing policy against settling the smoker lawsuits.That should only take about 4000 years.
"When we get to the point that plaintiff verdicts are upheld, with the industry looking at thousands of additional trials and expenses, they would weigh all of that together and possibly settle later down the road," said Edward Sweda, senior attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University law school in Boston.
In other news, Mike Kosnitzky may have come up with a great way to get your firm to pay for tickets to the South Beach Wine & Food Festival:
“It gives me the ability to network with existing clients as well as meeting new people with similar interests,” says Mike Kosnitzky, a partner at the law firm of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP, who with his wife will attend the Burger Bash, the Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ and the Whole Foods Grand Tasting Village. “There’s something to be said about being able to network with the people you do business with in a relaxed setting.”