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Jury Awards $300M In Ex-Smoker Suit

From a cheering Associated Press:

Fla. jury awards $300 million in ex-smoker’s suit


November 19, 2009

MIAMI — A South Florida jury on Thursday ordered Philip Morris USA to pay $300 million to a former smoker, agreeing that the tobacco company’s negligence was the cause of her emphysema.

The award for Cindy Naugle, 61, is the largest to date among thousands of lawsuits filed in the state against tobacco companies.

"Cindy admitted her fault to the jury," her attorney, Robert W. Kelley, said in a statement. "But Philip Morris refused to accept any responsibility for her emphysema, even though she was an addicted customer for 25 years."

The award amounts to $56 million in compensatory and $244 million in punitive damages against Richmond, Virginia-based Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group Inc. The company said it will seek further review of the verdict by the Broward County jury

The case is one of 8,000 lawsuits filed against tobacco companies by Florida smokers and their families.

Attorneys for Naugle, the sister of a former Fort Lauderdale mayor, said it’s the largest Florida tobacco verdict to date.

"The jury saw her condition," Todd Falzone, who also represented Naugle, said in a statement. "We think that they felt it. She needed to rest for five minutes to catch her breath after making the 7 step walk to the witness stand."

Naugle started smoking in 1968 when she was 20 because she thought they [sic] "made her look older." After several attempts to quit, she stopped smoking in 1993 with the aid of a nicotine patch.

She requires 24-hour oxygen and must travel in a wheelchair because walking leaves her exhausted, her attorneys said.

Falzone said Naugle spends every minute "as if she were drowning."

The smokers’ lawsuits have been working their way through Florida courts since the state Supreme Court in 2006 voided a $145 billion class-action jury award against tobacco companies. The court said each smoker’s case had to be decided individually, but let stand that jury’s findings that tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid risks from the public.

"Large verdicts encourage other large verdicts," said Richard A. Daynard, professor of law at Northeastern University and chairman of the Tobacco Products Liability Project. "I think Philip Morris has finally met its match in Florida. This gives jurors permission to fully compensate plaintiffs for all the harm they suffered and to express their moral outrage at the industry’s behavior."

The original Florida lawsuit was filed in 1994 by a Miami Beach pediatrician, Dr. Howard Engle, who had smoked for decades and couldn’t quit. The class of smokers was estimated at up to 700,000 when the giant $145 billion award was issued in 2000.

So it turns out emphysema is caused by the “negligence” of tobacco companies?

You learn something new every day.

Still, it’s yet another glittering milestone in the brilliant intellectual history of the denizens of Palm Beach.

"The jury saw her condition," Todd Falzone, who also represented Naugle, said in a statement. "We think that they felt it. She needed to rest for five minutes to catch her breath after making the 7 step walk to the witness stand."

Well, as long as they “felt it,” why not award this poor victim all of the extorted allotted $145 billion dollars?

After all, who can place a value on human suffering?

Naugle started smoking in 1968 when she was 20 because she thought they [sic] "made her look older."

Shouldn’t Ms. Naugle sue the movie industry and television, as well?

Falzone said Naugle spends every minute "as if she were drowning."

Just imagine the juicy jury award awaiting Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, November 20th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Jury Awards $300M In Ex-Smoker Suit”

  1. Having smoked for 18 years before quitting 15 years ago, I can can attest to the difficulty of nicotine addiction. However, addiction can hardly rule out the ultimate responsibility which lay at the feet of the smoker.


  2. mr_bill says:

    The $300 million figure is misleading. A civil jury in a tort case, after having found a tort, will be charged with determining the true compensatory damages, and in some cases, exemplary (punitive) damages. These recommendations are then returned to the court. The plaintiff must then choose whether to accept the compensatory or the exemplary damages (whichever is easier to uphold on appeal, almost always compensatory), but NOT both. The award is then reduced by the amount of comparable negligence. If the plaintiff is 40% at fault, then he/she may only recover 60% of the damages awarded by the jury (remember that in civil court, one need only be 51% at fault to have judgment entered against them). Yes, I am a smoker.

  3. proreason says:

    How much will Hasan get for the abuse that society has heaped on him?

    • mr_bill says:

      I think we should give him about $10 million….worth of lead…..dropped on him all at once…splat!

  4. beautyofreason says:

    Well, I can’t exactly sue McDonalds if I develop heart disease from eating processed foods that are high in sugar and saturated fat.

    Nicotine is addictive, and smoking is deadly. We all know it.

    I’m sorry for how her life turned out.
    But she is still responsible for using the product.

  5. Chuckk says:

    Sadly, I have read this story 1000 time over. I suspect the sleazy lawyers, ala John Edwards, will end up with most of any money that eventually changes hands.

    • Liberals Demise says:

      After the lawyers (grrrrrrrr) get their cut she will have enough left for recaps on the wheel chair and a weeks worth of bottled O2.

      Hey Cindy?
      Does cigarette smoking make you looks any older now?

      Cry baby!!

  6. wardmama4 says:

    Chuckk – you are so right on the comment.

    But I have to ask some questions –

    1) She started smoking – 1968 – already into the “Warning Labels” (1966) on the labels – and this is not something necessary – solely voluntary thing to do. Thus the majority of the responsibility should be on her shoulders – sorry I now about the addictive nature (ex-smoker myself) but I am talking about the starting here.

    2) 25 years – Did she ever try to quit, until the patch – and oh btw – when was her emphysema diagnosed (and if it was before 1993 – should she be awarded a plug nickel for continuing to smoke after the diagnosis)?

    3) Are these people nuts – that is $12,000,000. per year of smoking – I’m sorry but I do not know a single person whose life is worth $12,000, 000. a year – for something they started – they set out to do and continued knowing it could cause them illness and/or death.

    And this is the reason we need TORT REFORM in all instances.

    She did this to herself – And all of America is going to pay for it – when the Insurance Companies add this (and every other stupid lawsuit award) into each and everyone of our rates.

    How damn stupid people are – but then John Edwards made his millions on the slick scamming of stupid people like this.

    • MinnesotaRush says:

      And, wardmama …. how many more smokers will be calling her lawyer over the next several days, weeks, and months to get their case started?

      ANOTHER Pandora’s Box get’s opened.

  7. mjwooten says:

    Geez whiz! I have smoked for 37 years. So far, miraculously, I have managed to avoid any complications. However, I alone am responsible if anything happens to me. I use the product, I pay the price. There is no one to blame but myself.

    You know, this all ties back in with a sad trend. The trend for people to “expect” something for nothing…entitlements…the “have nots” expecting something from the “have’s” because they are too lazy to become a “have”, not taking responsibility for one’s own actions, expecting some kind of handout or leg up simply because of their race, color, creed or religion.

    Like the fellow earlier, if you eat too many big mac’s, whose fault is it? YOURS! If you smoke yourself into oblivion…whose fault is it? YOURS! If you engage in risky sexual activity and contract HIV or some other disease…yes…you guessed it…it is YOUR fault! Unfortunately this sad trend involves taxpayer dollars going to subsidize the irresponsible.


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