Florida Jury Finds Tobacco Companies Liable
The jury in the first class-action lawsuit by smokers ever to go to trial found Wednesday that cigarette makers produced a defective product that causes emphysema, lung cancer and other illnesses - a ruling that could expose the industry to billions in da
Jury deliberates anti-tobacco verdict(AP Photo)The jury, which deliberated over a complicated 10-question verdict form for seven days, will return in the next phase to determine damages. The lawsuit was filed in 1994 on behalf of as many as 500,000 sick Florida smokers and the heirs of those who died. Plaintiffs and family members openly wept and hugged each other as the verdict was read.
"This is really a clean sweep, a tremendous victory for the public health and for the hundreds of thousands of victims in Florida,'' said Richard Daynard, a Northeastern University law professor.
The smokers claimed the industry deceived them about the dangers of smoking, hid research results, stopped scientific work that promised to produce safer cigarettes and advertised to children. Attorney Stanley Rosenblatt called it a "rampant and cynical long-standing pattern of fraud.''