Big Tobacco loses California lawsuit - WSJ
NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - In another blow to Big Tobacco, a California state jury ruled that two major cigarette makers misrepresented the health dangers of their products and should pay for it, the Wall Street Journal reported in its online version
The judgment was against Philip Morris Cos Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc.
The jury awarded a $1.7 million payment to an ex-smoker dying of cancer and her husband. The award could rise if the jury decides in further deliberations to add punitive damages.
Analysts had said that since the plaintiff might seem unsympathetic in part due to her marijuana use, the case was a major test for Big Tobacco, which faces innumerable other court cases internationally.
After seven days of deliberations, the 12-member jury said the two tobacco companies acted with malice and therefore could be liable for punitive damages. The jury will hear more evidence starting Tuesday to decide the size of any punitive award.
The plaintiff, a 40-year-old woman, started smoking in 1972, three years after government-mandated medical warning labels began appearing on cigarette packs. Tobacco companies have said the warning label makes clear the risks of smoking and should shield them from liability.