Florida Supreme Court Reinstates Asbestos Verdict

Lady justice statue

The Florida Supreme Court recently reinstated an earlier verdict in favor of a Florida man whose mesothelioma is linked to cigarette filters and workplace asbestos exposure.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the $8 million verdict in favor of Richard DeLisle back in 2016 on the issue of the validity of expert testimony. The trial court had used one standard for expert testimony (the Frye standard), while a 2013 Florida law mandated the use of a different one (the Daubert standard). The Florida Supreme Court found that the 2013 law was unconstitutional, as it infringed upon the court’s rights in choosing which evidentiary standard was appropriate for expert witness testimony.

The crux of Mr. DeLisle’s case centered on his use of filtered cigarettes manufactured by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company dating back to the 1950s, the filters of which contained asbestos for years. He was also exposed to asbestos on the job, having worked manufacturing asbestos-containing sheet gaskets for Crane Co.

He successfully argued to the trial court that the asbestos contained in the cigarette filters and in the sheet gaskets led to his mesothelioma.

As we’ve discussed in the past, mesothelioma is a type of cancer that occurs in the thin membranous lining around internal organs. It is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. There are treatments for the various symptoms of the disease, but there is currently no cure. It can be in the pleura surrounding the lungs (pleural mesothelioma) or in the peritoneum surrounding the abdominal organs (peritoneal mesothelioma).