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Florida Fifth DCA rules that Engle-progeny tobacco case could not be transferred to Alachua County, finding case could not originally have been filed in that county because the decedent first suffered early smoking-related injuries in Putnam County

On September 10, 2021, in R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Frost, No. 5D20-1977, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a trial court’s ruling transferring venue of aEngle-progeny tobacco case from Putnam County to Alachua County. The trial court had transferred the case at the plaintiff’s request based on the plaintiff’s representation that she and her witnesses and the decedent smoker’s treating physicians all worked or resided closer to Alachua County than to Volusia County (the case had been administratively transferred within the Seventh Judicial Circuit from Putnam County to Volusia County consolidate tobacco related cases). The trial court’s ruling was also based on the trial court’s preliminary determination that the case could have originally been filed in Alachua County because that the was the County in which the lung cancer diagnosis was made. The Fifth DCA disagreed with the trial court on the latter issue, finding that the “well-established rule” that in negligence suits a cause of action accrues where the plaintiff suffers his injury. The Fifth DCA concluded that the Alachua County was not a venue where the case could have initially been brought because the decedent first suffered early smoking-related injuries in Putnam County.

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