Fla. Jury Awards $20 Million in Cancer Death Case

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., jury has ordered three cigarette companies to pay $20 million to the family of a dead smoker in the latest court loss for the tobacco industry.

Bloomberg reported April 27 that Philip Morris, R. J. Reynolds, and Liggett Group were deemed partially responsible for the death of Margot Putney in 2005. Putney started smoking in 1953, at age 15, “in an era where cigarette advertising was pervasive, on TV — in its infancy — in print media and on radio,” said plaintiff’s attorney Charles Baumberger.

Each tobacco company was assessed $2.5 million in punitive damages, and the jury also awarded $15 million in compensatory damages to Putney’s three children. Putney herself was determined to be 35-percent liable for her own death, but jurors found Reynolds to be 30-percent responsible, Liggett to be 20-percent responsible, and Philip Morris to be 15-percent responsible.

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