Florida Jury Gets Closing Arguments in Key Tobacco Liability Trial

February 13, 2009

A Broward County jury soon will decide the first of 8,000 lawsuits blaming health problems and deaths of Florida smokers on tobacco companies.

Closing arguments were given Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Elaine Hess, whose husband died of lung cancer. The lawsuit against Philip Morris is the first to go to trial since the Florida Supreme Court in 2006 threw out a huge $145 billion class-action jury award, ruling that each case had to be proven individually.

The key is whether Hess’s husband Stuart was addicted to cigarettes or chose not to quit. If jurors find he was addicted, then they will have to decide on money damages.

Philip Morris acknowledged smoking’s risks but contended Stuart Hess could have quit.

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