January 22, 2022

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Susan Rosenblatt, Who Took On Huge Tobacco, Dies at 70

Susan Rosenblatt, Who Took On Big Tobacco, Dies at 70

Susan Rosenblatt, who together with her husband and legislation associate, Stanley Rosenblatt, took on Huge Tobacco in a Florida case that appeared an absurd mismatch for his or her small agency, however that resulted in a file $144.8 billion jury award in favor of individuals sickened by cigarettes, died on Nov. 14 in Houston. She was 70.

Her demise, at MD Anderson Most cancers Middle, was confirmed by her son David Rosenblatt, who stated the trigger was acute myeloid leukemia.

Ms. Rosenblatt, who lived in Miami Seashore, was the quieter facet of the Rosenblatt agency; within the headline-making tobacco case and different outstanding lawsuits, Stanley Rosenblatt did a lot of the in-court presenting and after-court information conferencing. Nevertheless it was Ms. Rosenblatt’s authorized scholarship — the analysis she did, the briefs she wrote — that supplied the ammunition that made their successes doable.

“I at all times would say I didn’t have a dream staff, I had Susan,” Mr. Rosenblatt stated in a telephone interview.

That dream staff (which additionally included a small help employees) was by no means extra challenged than by the case the Rosenblatts filed in 1994 towards R.J. Reynolds and different tobacco firms on behalf of seven people who smoke — one in every of whom, Dr. Howard A. Engle, was the pediatrician for a lot of the Rosenblatts’ 9 kids and have become the lead plaintiff. The case was licensed as a category motion representing all Florida people who smoke, a bunch that encompassed a whole lot of 1000’s of individuals.

The case, one in every of a quantity being pursued on the time towards the business by states and people, dragged on for years. In 1996, when the most important of these instances, a nationwide class-action swimsuit, was thrown out by a federal appellate panel in New Orleans, Mr. Rosenblatt told The New York Times, “Now it’s as much as Ma and Pa Kettle.” He and his spouse pressed on with the Engle case, arguing that the business knowingly addicted people who smoke and didn’t warn them adequately in regards to the risks of their merchandise.

In 2000 a jury awarded a number of consultant plaintiffs $12.7 million in compensatory damages, then adopted that up with a surprising award of punitive damages to the entire class: nearly $145 billion, the most important such award in historical past.

The award didn’t stand; in 2003 a Florida appeals panel threw it out, discovering, amongst different issues, that the case mustn’t have been declared a category motion as a result of every smoker’s case is exclusive. However the Rosenblatts’ efforts weren’t wasted: In 2006 the Florida Supreme Court docket dominated that people who needed to pursue instances might invoke among the unique jury’s findings, together with that smoking causes lung most cancers, that nicotine in cigarettes is addictive and that the cigarette firms hid details about smoking’s well being results.

Particular person fits, referred to as the Engle progeny cases, have been working by the Florida courts ever since, some efficiently and a few not. Mr. Rosenblatt stated the legacy of his and his spouse’s work was the precedent.

“The fraud, the conspiracy — there’s a file now of simply how evil the tobacco business had been all these years,” he stated.

Susan Goldman was born on Jan. 5, 1951, in Brooklyn. Her mother and father, Sol and Shirley (Kaslow) Goldman, operated an actual property enterprise collectively.

When Susan was about 10, the household moved to Miami Seashore. Academically, she was a prodigy, enrolling on the College of Miami at 13 and graduating in 1968 with a bachelor’s diploma in economics. She graduated from the college’s legislation college in 1972. She obtained a grasp of legal guidelines diploma in 1978.

She and Mr. Rosenblatt married in 1980. She maintained her personal appellate observe till her rising household took priority.

“However after three kids, I actually was bored,” she informed The Miami Herald in 1996. “I’m not the sort to exit with girlfriends to lunch.”

So she started working together with her husband, at the same time as their household continued to develop.

“I used to be very lucky to have simple pregnancies,” she informed The Herald. “And the sort of work I do is studying instances, studying depositions, getting ready briefs, which I might do at dwelling in mattress.”

Though the Ma and Pa Kettle self-description was apt in some methods, the Rosenblatts had been hardly neophytes after they took on the tobacco firms. They’d gained vital awards for plaintiffs in plenty of instances. Most notably, that they had already taken on the tobacco business in one other case, representing airline flight attendants who argued that their well being had been broken by secondhand smoke within the days when smoking was allowed on airplanes. That case, filed in 1991, led to 1997 with a settlement by which the cigarette firms agreed to pay $300 million for the examine of tobacco-related illnesses.

Ms. Rosenblatt stated that she had been reluctant to tackle Huge Tobacco — “I believed it was chasing windmills,” she told The Times in 2000. However, her husband stated, she got here round and nudged him forward, understanding he’d get a kick out of deposing the tobacco executives he had come to revile.

“I feel she was humoring me,” he stated. “‘Take the depositions of those guys and have some enjoyable, and it’s not going to go anyplace.’ And it took over our life.”

When the Engle case went forward, the tobacco business, because it had in different instances, tried to bury its opponents in motions and challenges, hoping to exhaust the legal professionals and the plaintiffs. In the course of the trial itself, which stretched for nearly two years, the businesses would generally usher in expert legal professionals simply to look at a single witness or argue a single movement, Mr. Rosenblatt stated, whereas he relied on his spouse.

“Typically, the one factor I’d use to cross-examine these witnesses was what Susan would have ready for me,” he stated. And whereas he was cross-examining, she can be engaged on what he wanted the subsequent day.

If Mr. Rosenblatt drew a lot of the consideration, Ms. Rosenblatt was, as The Chicago Solar-Instances described her in 2000, “the knowledgeable on the legislation balancing his experience in entrance of the jury, the worrier in contrast along with his slouching nonchalance, the element particular person balancing his big-picture view.”

Along with her husband and their son David, Ms. Rosenblatt is survived by two different sons, Joshua and Moshe; six daughters, Miriam Hoffman, Rachel Gdanski, Rebecca Assaraf, Jaclyn Richter, Rina Kleiner and Sharon Franco; a brother, Alan Goldman; a sister, Ruth Schwager; and 30 grandchildren.

Busy as they had been, the Rosenblatts, who had been Orthodox Jews, by no means labored on the Sabbath, but Ms. Rosenblatt generally lamented that she spent a lot time on instances on the expense of dwelling life. Mr. Rosenblatt, although, stated there was a philosophy behind their home insanity.

“Susan felt, and I agreed together with her, that an important factor mother and father can do is about an instance,” he stated.

Ms. Hoffman, the couple’s eldest daughter, stated one little bit of household lore merged Ms. Rosenblatt’s authorized experience and parenting abilities. At one level, she stated, her mom acquired a used mini-school bus — yellow, after all — to move the brood right here and there. A Miami Seashore neighbor complained that parking a yellow college bus in a residential neighborhood was a violation of metropolis code. Ms. Rosenblatt, Ms. Hoffman stated, satisfied an administrative choose that if the bus weren’t yellow, it will be in compliance. So she had the factor painted inexperienced.

“That was my mother,” Ms. Hoffman stated by e-mail. “She at all times had a particular manner of doing issues. In contrast to anybody else.”

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