Fla. Smoker Urges Tobacco Damages
MIAMI (AP) -- A cancer victim who is suing the nation's largest tobacco companies for damages testified today that she kept smoking even after her lung tumors were discovered because she ``was so stressed.''
``I probably smoked even more,'' Mary Farnan said.
The 44-year old nurse said she knew cigarettes had caused her lung cancer and would make the tumors even worse, but she couldn't stop.
``I was addicted,'' she said.
She didn't quit until the night before a portion of her left lung was removed.
Mrs. Farnan and throat-cancer victim Frank Amodeo, 60, are plaintiffs selected to speak for 500,000 other sick Floridians seeking damages from the industry for illnesses the jury has already said were caused by tobacco products.
Mrs. Farnan's twin sister, Celeste Stevens, testified Monday in the multibillion-dollar lawsuit that before her twin got lung cancer she was a caring nurse who would stay past her shift to comfort dying patients.
But operations and other treatments left Mrs. Farnan wracked with pain, making her ``hard to live with,'' said Mrs. Stevens, a radiation inspector for a power company.
The jury must decide whether the tobacco industry should pay damages to Mrs. Farnan and Amodeo, an Orlando clock maker. If the jurors grant the pair damages, they would then decide whether to award punitive damages to all of the plaintiffs.
Tobacco company lawyers fear the award could reach $300 billion. The jury has already ruled that cigarettes are a dangerous and defective product and their manufacturers used deceptive marketing tactics to attract consumers.
Mrs. Stevens said she and her sister began smoking at age 10. They began stealing Lucky Strikes from their father, she said, because smoking was ``cool.''
``To me it was another step in growing up, like trying on dad or mom's clothes,'' said Mrs. Stevens, who has emphysema. ``The Marlboro Man was like Michael Jordan is today -- he was somebody to be looked up to.''
Mrs. Stevens became testy during cross-examination when tobacco attorney Jim Johnson asked about her sister's drinking, gambling and pool playing.
``I think you are trying to degrade my sister and I take exception to it,'' Mrs. Stevens said. She was also getting edgy, she said, because she was craving a cigarette.
Despite her and her sister's illness, she said, she remains a pack-a-day smoker.
``If this isn't an addiction, I don't know what is,'' Mrs. Stevens said.
Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Liggett Group Inc. are the cigarette companies being sued.