Broin, et al. v. Philip Morris Companies Inc., et al.

Seven current and former flight attendants who do not smoke sued the six major cigarette manufacturers for their having contracted lung cancer and other ailments or for facing increased risk of disease by inhaling tobacco smoke on airplanes.  The plaintiffs, who seek class action status on behalf of 60,000 nonsmoking flight attendants, filed the suit on October 31, 1991.  See “Tobacco Firms Face Passive Smoker Suit,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 1991, B8; “Flight Attendants Sue over Illness They Link to Passengers’ Smoking,” New York Times, November 1, 1991, A16; “Passive Smoking Targeted,” National Law Journal, November 18, 1991, 16; “Flight Attendants Sue Tobacco Companies over Secondhand Smoke,” Trial, January 1992, 80; and “Second-Hand Smoke Suit,” American Bar Association Journal, February 1992, 26.  On May 19, 1992, a Dade County Circuit Court Judge dismissed the class action aspect of the plaintiffs’ complaint.  See “No Tobacco Class Action,” The National Law Journal, June 1, 1992, 6; Ransom, D., “Flight Attendants Appeal Dismissal of Passive Smoking Suit,” Trial, September 1992, 98-99; and Pressman, C., “‘No Smoking Please.’ A Proposal for Recognition of Non-Smokers’ Rights through Tort Law,” New York Law School Journal of Human Rights, Spring 1993, 595-621.  On March 15, 1994, a three-judge panel of the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, at 641 So.2d 888, 9.1 TPLR 2.1 (Fla.  Ct. App. 3d Dist. 1994), review denied 654 So. 2d 919 (Fla. 1995) unanimously reversed the order of dismissal and ordered that the class action allegations be reinstated.  On April 18, 1994, the companies filed a motion with the Florida District Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing of the court’s decision re. certification of the class.  See Woo, J., “Tobacco Lawsuit” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 1994, B2; Janofsky, M., “Flight Attendants Get First Arena for Fight on Second-Hand Smoke,” New York Times, March 19, 1994, 9; and Shoop, J.G., “Flight Attendants May Seek Class Action in Passive Smoking Case, Court Holds,” Trial, May 1994, 92-93.

On December 12, 1994, the Circuit Court for DadeCounty (Kaye, J.) ruled, at 9.6 TPLR 2.161, that the case could proceed as a class action.  Thus, as many as 60,000 current and former flight attendants could be a party to the suit.  See Collins, G., “Air Crews Can Sue on Smoke,” New York Times, December 13, 1994, D1; Merzer, M., “Tobacco Suit Becomes a Class Action,” Miami Herald, December 13, 1994, 1C, 6C; Lyons, D., “Flight Attendants Can Pursue Smoking Suit,” National Law Journal, December 26, 1994-January 2, 1995, A7; “Attendants Smoke Ruling,” Air Travel Journal, December 19, 1994- January 1, 1995, 6; and “Ruling Favors Attendants’ Second Hand Smoke Suits,” Travel New England, January 1995, 21.  On January 3, 1996, the District Court of Appeals for the third district upheld the circuit court’s ruling, at 672 So.2d 37, 1996 Fla. App. LEXIS 49.  See Collins, G., “Group Wins Right to Sue Over Tobacco,” New York Times, January 5, 1996, A10; and Hickey, T., “Flight Attendants’ ETS Suit Gets Class Certification,” Indoor Air Review, March 1996, 5.  The trial began on June 2, 1997.

In late December, 1996, the court (Kaye, J.) authorized the mass notification of some 150,000 to 200,000 flight attendants so they can either sign up as plaintiffs or exclude themselves from the case to possibly pursue their own suits.  See Lyons, D., “Flight Attendants to be Told of Tobacco Suit,” Miami Herald, January 1, 1997, 2B.

See also Merzer, M., “Jetliner Smoking Suit Gets Green Light,” Miami Herald, May 20, 1997, 1B, 6B; Van Voris, B., “Latest Tobacco Headache: Flight Attendants’ Case,” National Law Journal, May 26, 1997, A1, A26; Merzer, M., “Keeping Smoke Suit on Track,” Miami Herald, May 28, 1997, 1B, 2B; Merzer, M., “Lawyers Edgy as Smoking Trial Approaches,” Miami Herald, May 29, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “Big Tobacco Seeks 11th-Hour Petition,” Miami Herald, May 30, 1997, 2B; Collins, G., “Trial Near in New Legal Tack in Tobacco War,” New York Times, May 30, 1997, A14; Levy, D., “Flight Attendants’ Tobacco Case Begins,” USA Today, May 30, 1997, 6B; “Tiny Law Firm Takes on Tobacco Giants,” Boston Globe, June 1, 1997, A33; Williams, M., “Flight Attendants Taking on Tobacco Firms in Court,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 1, 1997, D1; Geyelin, M., “Flight-Attendants Tobacco Trial Nears,” Wall Street Journal, June 2, 1997, B7; Levin, M., “Trial to Test Secondhand Smoke Liability,” Los Angeles Times, June 2, 1997, A1, A12; Varadarajian, T., “Passive Smoker Sues US Tobacco Giants for $5bn,” The Times (London), June 2, 1997, 13; Merzer, M., “Historic Tobacco Trial’s Times is Now,” Miami Herald, June 2, 1997, 1B, 5B; Merzer, M., “Jury Selection Begins in Historic Anti-Tobacco Suit,” Miami Herald, June 3, 1997, 1A, 10A; “Jury Screening off to Slow Start,” Hartford Courant, June 3, 1997, A8; Merzer, M., “Tobacco-trial Jury Pool Gets Third Degree,” Miami Herald, June 4, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “Jury Selection Brings Out Tobacco Opinions,” Miami Herald, June 8, 1997, 1B, 5B; Merzer, M., “Employers Can’t Be Sued in Smoke Case,” Miami Herald, June 9, 1997, 1B, 6B; Merzer, M., “Jury Pool Questions Plod Along,” Miami Herald, June 10, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “Judge Removes Disruptive Juror in Smoking Lawsuit,” Miami Herald, July 12, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “Legal Move Designed to Shore Up Smoke Suit,” Miami Herald, June 16, 1997, 1B, 6B; Merzer, M., “Judge: Smoke Case Not in Jeopardy,” Miami Herald, June 17, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “$5 Billion Tobacco Trial Has Jury,” Miami Herald, July 10, 1997, 2B; Collins, G., “Trial Begins in Class-Action Suit on Secondhand Smoke,” New York Times, July 15, 1997, A10; “$5b Tobacco Suit Goes to Trial,” Boston Globe, July 15, 1997, A4; Baker, D., “Class-Action Smoking Trial Begins,” Washington Post, July 15, 1997, A6; Sharp, D., “Secondhand Smoke Rears Its Head in Court,” USA Today, July 15, 1997, 1D.

See also, “Gag Order Threatened in Airline Smoke Trial,” Boston Globe, July 16, 1997, A6; Levin, M., “Smoke Exposure Was Minimal, Attorneys Say,” Los Angeles Times, July 16, 1997, D1, D11; Collins, G., “Industry Disputes Research in Secondhand Smoke Trial,” New York Times, July 16, 1997, A12; “Tobacco Trial Lawyers Assail Secondhand Smoke Risks,” Washington Post, July 16, 1997, A3; Merzer, M., “Doctor Lists Smoke-linked Risks,” Miami Herald, July 17, 1997, 2B; Levin, M., “Ex-Surgeon General Links Secondhand Smoke to Crew’s Cancer Cases,” Los Angeles Times, July 17, 1997, D5; Richey, W., “Secondhand Smoke Goes on Trial,” Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 1997, 1, 18; Levin, M., “Jury Views CEO’s ‘Gummy Bear’ Deposition,” Los Angeles Times, July 18, 1997, D3, D4; Davies, F., “Doctor: Flight Staffs ‘Smoke’ 12 Packs a Year,” Miami Herald, July 19, 1997, 1B, 2B; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Maverick LeBow to Testify Against Industry,” Louisville Courier-Journal, July 21, 1997, A5; Merzer, M., “Smoking ‘Addictive,’ Says CEO of Liggett,” Miami Herald, July 22, 1997, 1B, 6B; “Tobacco Addictive, CEO Says,” Dallas Morning News, July 22, 1997, 1A, 7A; Levin, M., “Under Oath, Liggett Owner Says Cigarettes Are Addictive,” Los Angeles Times, July 22, 1997, D1, D17; “Cigarette Exec’s Testimony Burns Defense During Trial,” Boston Herald, July 22, 1997, 16; “$10m in Hush Money Is Alleged, Boston Globe, July 22, 1997, A6; “Chemist: Carcinogens High on Planes,” Winston-Salem Journal, July 23, 1997, D1, D5; Wilson, C., “Witness: Big Tobacco Pressured Regulators,” Miami Herald, July 25, 1997, 2B; Wilson, C., “Researcher’s 1973 Study Linked Tobacco to Cancer,” Miami Herald, July 31, 1997, 2B; Merzer, M., “Smoking on Jetliners Stymied Engineers, Jury Told,” Miami Herald, August 5, 1997, 2B; “Cancer-Stricken Attendant Recalls Smoky Airplanes,” Washington Post, August 12, 1997, A6; “Flight Attendant Testifies on Smoke,” Boston Globe, August 12, 1997, A5; Merzer, M., “Lung Cancer Survivor Takes Stand,” Miami Herald, August 12, 1997, 1A, 19A; “Testimony Intensifies Tobacco Trial,” Hartford Courant, August 12, 1997, A1, A8; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Executive Dismisses Nicotine Memo as ‘Bizarre,'” Miami Herald, August 14, 1997, 5B; “Tobacco Industry Cries ‘Foul,'” Boston Globe, August 28, 1997, A20; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Lawyers Vie to Bar Studies,” Miami Herald, September 1, 1997, 5B; “Flight Attendants’ Lawsuit Against Tobacco to Resume,” Boston Globe, September 2, 1997, A11; Lyons, D., “Now It’s Tobacco Industry’s Turn in Flight Attendants’ Lawsuit,” Miami Herald, September 9, 1997, 3B; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Jury Hears About Recycled Air,” Miami Herald, September 23, 1997, 2B; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Lawyers Want Judge Off Case,” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), September 24, 1997, 3B; Levin, M., “Tobacco Firms Battle Flight Attendant Suit,” Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1997, A22, A23; and Williams, M, “Attorneys Challenge Research on Smoking,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 1, 1997, A7.

On October 10, 1997, the parties announced a proposed settlement whereby the Defendants would pay $300,000,000 to establish the Broin Research Foundation and agree that flight attendants harmed by secondhand smoke exposure aboard airlines can sue the tobacco companies regardless of statute of limitations issues.  Individual actions can proceed with the burden of proof on the Defendants on the issue of whether ETS exposure causes disease in nonsmokers.  See  Navarro, M., “Cigarette Makers Reach Settlement in Nonsmoker Suit,” New York Times, October 11, 1997, A1, A8; Lewis, N., “First Thing We Do, Let’s Pay All the Lawyers,” New York Times, October 11, 1997, A8; Wilson, C., “Tobacco Cos. Burned in Suit,” Boston Herald, October 11, 1997, 2; Williams, M., “Big Tobacco to Dish Out $300 Million,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 11, 1997, A1; Dominguez, E., “Lung Cancer Victim Survives, Succeeds,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 11, 1997, B1; “Tobacco Pays Millions to Flight Attendant,” Tampa Tribune, October 11, 1997, Nation/World 1, 12; “$300 Million Settlement in Secondhand Smoke Suit,” San Francisco Chronicle, October 11, 1997, A1, A13; Tomkins, R., “Tobacco Groups Agree to Pay Health Damages,” Financial Times, October 11, 1997, 3; Balfour, G., “Big Tobacco Sees $300M Go Up in Secondhand Smoke,” New York Post, October 11, 1997, 10; Balfour, M., “Crusader Kicks Butt After Beating Cancer,” New York Post, October 11, 1997, 10; Curriden, M. “Big Tobacco Settles Secondhand Smoke Suit,” Dallas Morning News, October 11, 1997, 1F, 2F; Schwartz, J., “Firms Settle Secondhand Smoke Case,” Boston Globe, October 11, 1997, A1, A6; Schwartz, J., “Secondhand Smoke Trial Ends in Deal,” Washington Post, October 11, 1997, A1, A11; Marcus, N., “Tobacco Firms Settle Flight Attendants’ Suit,” Chicago Tribune, October 11, 1997, sec. 1, p. 3; “Tobacco Firms Agree to Pay in Secondhand-smoke Case,” Globe and Mail, October 11, 1997, A12; “Big Tobacco Settles in Flight Attendants Case,” Irish Times, October 11, 1997, 15; Weisman, J., “Flight Attendants’ Settlement Reinvigorates Tobacco Foes,” Congressional Quarterly, October 11, 1997, 2477; Levy, D., “No Clear Winner in Lawsuit over Second-hand Smoke,” USA Today, October 13, 1997, 5B; Hwang, S., Davis, A., “Secondhand-Smoke Case May Kindle New Suits,” Wall Street Journal, October 13, 1997, B1, B10; Davis, A., “But the Lawyers Get Paid,” Investor’s Business Daily, October 15, 1997, A32; Geyelin, M., “Issues of Eligibility Remain Hazy in Secondhand Smoke Settlement,” Wall Street Journal, October 16, 1997, B8; Chapman, S., “Second-hand Tobacco Smoke Creates a Legal Cloud,” Chicago Tribune, October 16, 1997, sec. 1, p. 13; Neuberger, C., “Nonsmoker Realizes Goal,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 20, 1997, A1, A5; “Secondhand Smoke Loss,” U.S. News & World Report, October 20, 1997, 35; Van Voris, B., “Secondhand Smoke Deal Draws Fire,” National Law Journal, October 27, 1997, A7; Silver, F.T., “Settlement of ETS Case Called ‘Amazing Victory,'” Indoor Environment Review, November 1997, 1, 2; and Ibelle, B., “Husband-and-Wife Team Changes the Course of Tobacco Litigation,” Lawyers Weekly USA, December 1, 1997, B4, B10-B12.

See also, Weinstein, H., “Suit Threatens Tobacco Accord,” Los Angeles Times, January 6, 1998, D16; Geylin, M., “Airline Staffs Object To Deal in Smoke Case,” Wall Street Journal, January 7, 1998, B9; “Flight Attendants Oppose Secondhand-smoke Settlement,” The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), January 7, 1998, B6; Marcus, N., “Outside Lawyers Hit Tobacco Deal; They Want Clients to Be Able to Choose Options for Payoff,” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), January 12, 1998, 2B; Van Voris, B., “Flight Attendants Object to Smoke Deal,” National Law Journal, January 19, 1998, A6; Lyons, D., “Tobacco Deal Is Unfair, Lawyers Say,” Miami Herald, January 27, 1998, 2B; “Reject Tobacco Deal, Judge in Miami Is Urged,” Boston Globe, January 27, 1998, A5; “Dissident Flight Attendants Object to Secondhand Smoke Settlement,” Washington Post, January 27, 1998, A7; and Lyons, D., “Secondhand Smoke Deal on Hold,” Miami Herald, June 28, 1998.

In an order dated February 3, 1998, Dade County Circuit Judge Robert Kaye approved the proposed settlement, calling it “fair reasonable, adequate and in the best interests of the class.”  Challengers to the settlement indicated they would appeal.  See Wilson, C., “Judge OK’s Deal in Attendants’ Case,” Charlotte Observer, February 7, 1998, 3A; “$349M Settlement OK’d in Second-hand Smoke Suit,” Patriot Ledger, February 7/8, 1998, 4; and “Settlement of Second-Hand Smoke Suit of Flight Attendants Approved by Judge,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 1998, B7A.

Challengers for three individuals objected to the settlement.  See Lyons, D., “Foes Join to Save Tobacco Deal,” Miami Herald, January 5, 1999, 2B; Marcus, N., “Tobacco Case Judgment of $350 Million Was Too Small, Lawyers Say,” Sun-Sentinel (Ft. Lauderdale, FL), January 5, 1999, 1B; and “Secondhand Smoke Suits Set,” National Law Journal, January 18, 1999, A4.

On March 24, 1999, the Third Circuit Court of Appeal unanimously denied the objectors’ appeal of the settlement. See Lyons, D., “Secondhand-smoke Settlement Upheld,” Miami Herald, March 25, 1999, 3B; “Tobacco Settlement Is Upheld in Florida,” New York Times, March 25, 1999, A20; and “Tobacco Settlement With Flight Attendants Upheld by State Court,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 1999, C7.  The objectors decided not to appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.  See Oliphant, J., “Lawyers Net $50 Million in Florida Flight Attendants’ Second-Hand Smoke Class Action,” The Legal Intelligencer, September 22, 1999, 4; Miller, S., “In Florida, Flight Attendants Continue to Fight Big Tobacco,” The Legal Intelligencer, March 13, 2000. 4.

No. 91-49738 6.4 TPLR 3.465 (11th Fla. Circuit Court, Miami, 1991).