The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Supreme Court rejects Big Tobacco's appeals of awards to Florida smokers topping $70 million

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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has turned away appeals from cigarette manufacturers of more than $70 million in court judgments to Florida smokers.

The justices did not comment Monday in rejecting the companies' complaints.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. wanted the court to review cases in which smokers won large damage awards without having to prove that the companies sold a defective and dangerous product or hid the risks of smoking.

Those cases all relied on a Florida court ruling that allows individual smokers or their surviving relatives to use jury findings in an earlier large class-action lawsuit, even though the verdict in that earlier case was overturned. Each plaintiff still has to show addiction to cigarettes, and resulting death or illness.

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