Tobacco Personal Injury Suits Dismissed

By Greg Kohn

A large amount of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been thrown out of Federal court recently.

The Wilner Firm of Jacksonville, Florida filed over 4,000 smoking personal injury claims in 2008.  One of their partners was victorious in a tobacco case in the mid-1990’s and this attracted a lot of business.  With a flurry of inquiries and a looming deadline set out by a class action suit, the firm filed claims on behalf of thousands of plaintiffs that had previously contacted them.  The problem was they did not do their due diligence first.  They failed to investigate the cases and just filed the claims to get them in to court before they became time-barred.

Problems with many of the cases became obvious one after the other.  In a good number of the cases, a claim was filed on behalf of a plaintiff who did not meet the requirements of the action.  For example, wrongful death suits were brought on behalf of plaintiffs that were still alive.  Also, claims were filed that had already been decided or that were beyond the statute of limitations.  The court handled each of the cases in turn.

Then, the court went through all of the cases and found approximately 750 that were so defective they could not be pursued.  Around 600 of the cases were for personal injuries on behalf of a dead plaintiff.  Unfortunately, a personal injury action cannot be pursued if the plaintiff is dead as this is an entirely different action all together.  Another 160 of them were for loss of consortium claims corresponding to the dead personal injury claimants.  The court reasoned that all personal injury attorneys should know that these claims cannot be pursued on behalf of a dead plaintiff and dismissed them all at one time.  The attorneys appealed but the Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the lower court’s reasoning.  They also added that the attorneys had forfeited their rights by delaying the litigation in this way.

If you have been injured in any way, you want a firm that is going to get it right.  At Nagel Rice, we give personal attention to all of our personal injury and wrongful death clients.  Call our Essex County, New Jersey attorneys at (973)618-0400 for a consultation today.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.