Philip Morris has been ordered by a jury to pay $8 million in damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer. It’s being said this case could set a standard for some 8,000 similar Florida lawsuits. The award was for Elaine Hess, whose husband, Stuart Hess, died in 1997 at age 55 after decades as a chain smoker. The award amounts to $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages against Richmond, Virginia-based Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group.
The Hess case was the first to go to trial since the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 voided a $145 billion class action jury award in the so-called Engle case, by far the highest punitive damage award in U.S. history. The court said each smoker’s case had to be decided on individual merits, but let stand that jury’s findings that tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid risks from the public. To be included in those findings, smokers or their families had to file individual lawsuits by January 11, 2008.
Source: Jacksonville News
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