A lawsuit by the widow whose husband died of lung cancer is headed to trial again. Nearly two months after ending in a mistrial, the first of about 8,000 cases against tobacco companies in Florida is scheduled to head to trial again in Florida.
Elaine Hess is suing cigarette maker Philip Morris, alleging her husband’s death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes containing nicotine. Stuart Hess, a locksmith, died of lung cancer at age 55 in 1997.
The case originally went to trial in December, but ended on the second day of testimony after an expert witness for Hess used a racial slur.
The Hess case stems from a 1994 class-action lawsuit brought by smoker Howard Engle, a Miami Beach doctor. The suit alleged tobacco firms conspired to suppress information on smoking’s dangers.
Though a Miami-Dade jury awarded the class $145 billion in punitive damages, the Florida Supreme Court tossed the award. It ruled smokers must prove individually that cigarettes caused their illness.
About 8,000 suits were filed around the state, including 360 in Broward. Hess’ case is the first of those to go to trial.
Philip Morris, in defending itself, argued Stuart Hess had numerous chances to quit smoking but chose not to stop. Hess mostly smoked Benson & Hedges made by Philip Morris.
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