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Philip Morris Ordered to Pay $150 Million in Ore. Lawsuit

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A Portland, Ore., jury found Philip Morris USA 51 percent responsible for the smoking-related death of a 53-year-old woman and ordered the company to pay $150 million in damages, Reuters reported March 22.

Michelle Schwarz died in 1999 of lung cancer. She began smoking in 1964, but switched to low-tar Merit cigarettes in 1976 because she believed they were better for her than regular cigarettes.

The lawsuit, which sought $305 million, claimed that Philip Morris misrepresented the low-tar cigarettes as being safer than regular cigarettes.

The jury determined that Philip Morris was 51 percent responsible for Schwarz's death and Schwarz was 49 percent responsible for choosing to smoke.

The $150 million award, which would go to Schwarz's estate, could be reduced by the judge or through appeal.

The case is the first involving low-tar brands. Philip Morris said it would appeal the decision.

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