Addiction to cigarettes caused chain smoker Stuart Hess’ death from lung cancer, a Florida jury ruled yesterday, paving the way for his widow to receive damages from Phillip Morris. The case is the first of 8,000 to spin out of a landmark 1994 class-action suit. That case's $145 billion award was overturned in 2006, and though the Hess verdict won’t directly affect the other 7,999 plaintiffs, it is being closely watched, the Miami Herald reports.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that all the smokers needed to individually prove that cigarette addiction caused their illness. Hess’ widow has now done that. But the trial isn’t over, Phillip Morris was quick to point out. The jury will next assign fault for Hess’ death, and could place it squarely on the smoker’s shoulders.