Smoker's widow gets $6.3M in damages

February 18, 2009 12:52:02 PM PST
A Florida jury has ordered Philip Morris to pay $6.3 million in damages to the widow of a smoker who died of lung cancer in a case that could set a standard for some 8,000 similar lawsuits in the state. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The six jurors returned the award Wednesday for Elaine Hess for the 1997 death of her husband Stuart Hess. He had been a chain smoker for decades.

The award amounts to $1.3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages against Richmond, Va.-based Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group. Hess's attorneys sought $130 million.

The case was the first to go to trial since the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 voided a $145 billion class-action award for smoking victims. The court said each case had to be decided individually.

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