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Florida Fourth DCA rules that trial court erred in allowing treating physician to opine on plaintiff's ability to quit smoking after ruling him unqualified to opine on plaintiff's addiction

On July 5, 2017, in Collar v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al, No. 4D15-3893, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a final judgment for the defense in an Engle progeny tobacco case, concluding that the trial court had prejudicially erred in allowing the defense to elicit from the plaintiff’s treating pulmonologist that the plaintiff was able to quit smoking when “sufficiently motivated to do so,” notwithstanding the fact that the trial court had previously ruled that the pulmonologist was not qualified to render an expert opinion as to whether the plaintiff was addicted to nicotine. The defense exploited these rulings to argue to the jury that the plaintiff must not have been addicted. The Fourth DCA stated that “[i]f the pulmonologist was unqualified to opine that the plaintiff was addicted to nicotine, he was equally unqualified to opine concerning the plaintiff’s motivation to quit, as evidence of the absence of addiction.”

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