Six jurors just made a Florida widow $8 million richer. In 1997 Elaine Hess's husband died of lung cancer at the age of 55. Philip Morris must now pay $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for the death of the chain smoker who began smoking at 15.
The plaintiff presented a 1994 video of tobacco executives testifying to Congress that smoking was not addictive, as evidence in the case.
This is the first smoker vs. tobacco company case in Florida since pediatrician Dr. Howard Engle won a class action lawsuit and a $145 billion settlement because he couldn't quit. The award was overruled, but the state supreme court upheld the decision that tobacco companies knowingly sold dangerous products and hid the risks from the public. The court said smokers had to sue individually. Now that Hess was successful, approximately 8,000 other smokers will likely sue.