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Supreme Court Agrees To Take Up Asbestos Dispute


In a dispute that focuses heavily on expert witnesses, a divided Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case filed by a man who said he suffered mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos in cigarette filters and other products.

Justices, in a 4-3 decision, issued an order Tuesday accepting the case. The majority was made up of Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, while justices Charles Canady, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson dissented.

Plaintiff Richard DeLisle took the case to the Supreme Court after the 4th District Court of Appeal last year ruled in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Crane Co., a manufacturer accused of exposing DeLisle to asbestos in gaskets. The appeals court ruling came after DeLisle had won an $8 million verdict in the Broward County case.

Along with exposure in the gaskets, DeLisle alleged exposure in filters of Kent cigarettes he smoked in the 1950s. R.J. Reynolds is a successor company to the manufacturer of Kent cigarettes.

The appeals court ruled that testimony of three of DeLisle's expert witnesses should not have been admitted in circuit court. In issuing the order agreeing to take up the case, the Supreme Court did not immediately set a date for oral arguments.