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Florida First DCA grants defendant’s motion for writ of prohibition and disqualifies trial judge from presiding over Engle progeny tobacco case because of judge’s prior history as attorney in other Engle progeny cases

On May 6, 2019, in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Cuddihee,  No. 1D19-0385, the Florida First DCA granted a defendant tobacco company’s motion for a writ of prohibition and disqualified the trial judge from presiding over the  Engle progeny tobacco case.  The trial judge had previously served as a plaintiff’s attorney in nineteen other Engle progeny cases, including one case in which his co-counsel was the same attorney representing the plaintiff in the instant case.  The First DCA concluded that the facts alleged sufficed to create a well-founded fear that the defendant would not receive a fair and impartial trial. See Fla. R. Jud. Admin. 2.330(d); Port Everglades Pilots Ass’n v. Florida-Caribbean Cruise Ass’n, 170 So. 3d 952, 955 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015).