Smoker's family wins record pounds 51m

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The Independent Online
THE TOBACCO company Philip Morris was hit with its second liability verdict in two months yesterday as a court in Oregon ordered it to pay a record $81m (pounds 51m) in damages to the family of a school caretaker who died of lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking Marlboros.

Coming after a $51m (pounds 32m) judgment by a San Francisco court in February, the decision appears to open the floodgates to just about any smoker or former smoker who wishes to seek redress from tobacco companies for a major illness.

Philip Morris' shares, which have been tumbling steadily since last November, fell a further 8.35 per cent on the news. The company's lawyers said they intended to appeal, citing the industry's record in warding off such suits. "If you look at this verdict, it was not supported by the evidence," said a spokesman. "It was a product of passion and prejudice."

The caretaker smoked three packs of Marlboros a day for 40 years before contracting lung cancer and dying in 1997.

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