Florida Jury Awards $8M to Smoker's Family

Philip Morris vows to appeal verdict
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Feb 18, 2009 5:18 PM CST
The tobacco lawsuit could set a precedent for 8,000 other cases awaiting trial in Florida.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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(Newser) – Philip Morris must pay $8 million to the widow and son of a 55-year-old lung cancer victim, a Florida jury says. Jurors in the closely watched case decided that the cigarette maker hid the health risks and addictive qualities of cigarettes, the Miami Herald reports. Stuart Hess smoked about two packs daily for 40 years, and the company says Hess was responsible for his own health. It plans to appeal.

''I just really hope that this can help all the thousands of other families who have also suffered,'' said widow Elaine Hess, who had sought $131 million in damages. The case is the first of 8,000 similar lawsuits to go to trial. All of them are offshoots of a 2000 class-action suit in Florida that resulted in an overturned judgment against tobacco companies but left the door open to future litigation.