London, Feb 19 (ANI): Tobacco giant Philip Morris has been made to pay 8 million dollars by a Florida jury to the widow of a smoker whose death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes.
Elaine Hess, the widow of long-time smoker Stuart Hess, who died of lung cancer in 1997 at 55, received the settlement after the jury in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, decided in her favour.
Philip Morris USA, a unit of Altria Group Inc, said it would appeal the verdict, in the first of what could be thousands of cases to go to trial in Florida.
But Alex Alvarez, an attorney for Elaine Hess, said he and other lawyers who worked on the case felt vindicated after winning 5 million dollars in punitive damages and 3 million dollars in compensatory damages.
"She's a 110lb elementary school teacher and she went up against Philip Morris, one of the most powerful companies in the world, and won," the Telegraph quoted Alvarez, as saying.
"We have paved the road for these other litigants to come in and seek their day in court as well. We're happy to be able to do that for them," he added.
Alvarez was referring to the estimated 8,000 cases filed following the Florida Supreme Court's landmark decision in 2006 to throw out a 145 billion dollar jury award in a class-action lawsuit filed in the early 1990s by Miami Beach paediatrician Howard Engle on behalf of thousands of sick smokers. (ANI)