Howard Engle, M.D. was a practicing pediatrician in MIami, Florida for over 50 years. He began smoking as a first-year medical student, he said, at the suggestion of a lab partner, to cover up the smell of cadavers. He suffered from asthma, which he claimed he developed at age 50 as a result of cigarette smoking. Howard Engle was the plaintiff for whom the Engle class action lawsuit was named. The Engle class action lawsuit was brought on behalf of 400,000 to 500,000 Florida residents who claimed they were sickened by smoking cigarettes. The Engle case was filed on May 5,1994, in Dade County Circuit Court. The class was represented by the husband and wife team of Miami attorneys Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, who also represented Norma Broin.
The Engle case was the first class action suit on behalf of smokers ever to make it to trial in the U.S. In July 1999, the six-person jury found that the defendant tobacco companies manufactured and sold a deadly product, which is the legal cause of 20 diseases. On July 14, 2000, the same jury awarded $145 billion in punitive damages, the largest punitive damage award in U.S. history. The award far exceeded the previous record for punitive damages ($5 billion for the Exxon-Valdez environmental disaster).
The complaint named a number of defendants, including the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Philip Morris, Inc., the Lorillard Tobacco Company, The American Tobacco Company, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Liggett Group, Inc., Dosal Tobacco Corp., The Council for Tobacco Research - U.S.A., Inc., The Tobacco Institute, Inc. and their various parent and affiliated companies. Judge Solomon dismissed Philip Morris Companies, Inc. and RJR Nabisco, Inc. from the case on July 11, 1994.
The case was heard in the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, in Dade County, Miami, Florida.
- Northeastern University School of Law Summary of the Engle Verdict March 12, 2001
- Howard A. Engle, M.D. vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Dade County, Florida. Circuit Court, 11th Judicial Circuit. Case No. 94-08273 (CA) 20. Background. Formal Legal Document, October 9, 1998. Bates No. 531315948/5956