Judge Refuses Smoking Trial Delay
MIAMI (AP) - A judge refused a tobacco industry request Monday to delay the punitive damages phase in a landmark smokers' case that has already yielded $12.7 million in compensatory damages.
Lead tobacco attorney Dan Webb asked for a two-week delay, saying there was too much work to get done by May 15, when the punitive damages phase is set to begin.
Circuit Judge Robert Kaye ruled in favor of the smokers' attorneys and said it would start on time.
An estimated 500,000 sick smokers are seeking a multibillion-dollar award to punish the industry for hiding the deadly and addictive nature of cigarettes for decades.
On April 7, a jury decided Big Tobacco had conspired to produce a defective product and returned a $12.7 million compensatory verdict for three smokers with cancer.
The award covers medical expenses, pain and suffering. Once a jury decides compensatory damages, it can consider punitive damages, which are meant to punish.
The same jury that awarded the compensatory damages will hear testimony on potential punitive damages in the class-action lawsuit.
The defendants are Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson, Lorillard Tobacco Co., Liggett Group Inc. and the industry's Council for Tobacco Research and Tobacco Institute.