Next phase of smoker lawsuit begins

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - It's now up to a Florida jury to decide what, if anything, a tobacco company owes to a man who died from lung cancer.

The jury already decided that the 40-year-old man, Stuart Hess, was helplessly addicted to nicotine.

Lawyers for the man's widow plan to argue in the next phase of the trial starting today that Hess became addicted because of deceptive practices by Philip Morris that hid the dangers of smoking. They haven't said how much money they're seeking, but it's expected to be in the millions of dollars.

The case is the first to go to trial since the state Supreme Court in 2006 tossed out a $145 billion jury award in a class-action lawsuit. That case was brought on behalf of thousands of smokers and their families.

In that ruling, the high court upheld the conclusion that companies knowingly sold dangerous products and concealed the health risks of smoking. But it ruled that each case has to be proven individually.


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