Philip Morris has to pay the widow of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer $8 million in damages in a case that could affect about 8,000 similar Florida lawsuits.
The six jurors deliberated over two days before returning the award 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, Va.-based Philip Morris USA.
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, which was by far the highest punitive damage award in U.S. history.
The court said each smoker’s case had to be decided individually, but let stand that jury’s findings that tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid risks from the public.
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