WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a request by tobacco companies to consider making it harder for smokers to prove they were misled by the industry.
The case arose out of a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 700,000 Florida residents suffering from illness caused by their addiction to cigarettes.
In July 2006, the Florida Supreme Court dismissed a $145 billion punitive damage award against the tobacco companies for injuring smokers, saying that recognizing the huge class of victims was inappropriate.
But it upheld multimillion-dollar compensatory awards on behalf of two individual smokers. And in the part of its ruling most troubling to the industry, the Florida Supreme Court said that the findings against the companies could be used in individual suits by former members of the class.
The companies say that approach is unfair to them because the state court's conclusions were too general.
The case is R.J. Reynolds v. Engle, 06-1545.
On the Net:
U.S. Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)