Supreme Court Will Not Hear Appeal by Tobacco Maker in Case of Smoker’s Death

The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear an appeal by tobacco maker R.J. Reynolds, in a Florida case in which the company was ordered to pay $28.3 million to a woman whose husband smoked cigarettes for decades and died of lung cancer.

The company argued its constitutional due process rights were violated, according to Reuters. R.J. Reynolds also argued the issue could impact thousands of pending cases in Florida against tobacco companies, the article notes.

Benny Martin died of lung cancer in 1995. His widow, Mathilde, blamed his death on his long-time smoking of Reynolds’ Lucky Strikes cigarettes. In 2009, a Florida state trial court ordered Reynolds to pay her more than $3.3 million in compensatory damages, and $25 million in punitive damages.

The jury found that the company was 66 percent responsible for Martin’s death, while he was 34 percent responsible. Martin began smoking in the 1940s, before cigarette packs had health warnings.

One Response to Supreme Court Will Not Hear Appeal by Tobacco Maker in Case of Smoker’s Death

  1. Elliot Brown | March 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    As someone who has been a Tobacco Compliance Officer for the past twelve years knows, the tobacco companies have brought this on themselves. Prior to passage of the first FDA ruling during the Clinton Administration, tobacco companies never lost a court case against them for smoking use and death. But the tobacco companies misinterpreted the FDA ruling and sued all the way to the Supreme Court. At the Supreme Court, their lawyers admitted that the product (cigarettes) were lethal and should not be governed by the FDA. The tobacco companies won their case and the FDA had to cease their tobacco procedures. But the tobacco companies have not won a case brought against them since. They openly admitted in court that they sold a product that could kill you when used to some (undefined) extent. Had they allowed the FDA to continue policing tobacco vendors from selling tobacco products to minors, the tobacco companies would probably still be winning cases filed against them.

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