A Florida court has ordered US tobacco giant Philip Morris to pay US$8 million to the widow of a lung cancer victim, in a case that may well set a precedent for 8,000 similar trials in the southern state.
The jury rejected Elian Hess’ demand for US$130 million compensation, arguing that her husband Stuart Hess was partly responsible for his death since he smoked three packs a day of Benson & Hedges before he died at 55 in 1997.
But after nine hours of deliberations the jury ordered the cigarette maker to pay US$2 million in compensatory damages to Elaine Hess, US$1 million to her son David and US$5 million in punitive damages.
Philip Morris has said it will appeal the judgment.
The ruling follows a 2006 judgement from the state’s supreme court that struck down a record US$145 million punitive award in a class action suit. – The Standard